HOUSE sales fell while property prices continued to rise over the summer, according to figures released today by the Land Registry. The average property now costs just under £162,000, a rise of nearly 11 per cent from last year.
The figures also confirm reports from mortgage lenders that house prices in the North are rising faster than those in the South but the rate of growth is slowing in most areas around the country.
Although more homes were sold between July and September than in the previous quarter, the volume of sales decreased by 11.44 per cent compared with the same period last year.
Both the bottom and the top ends of the market witnessed the sharpest declines in activity, with the number of sales of homes worth between £1.25 million and £1.75 million dropping 34 per cent. Sales of more affordable homes — those that are worth between £150,000 and £800,000 — rose modestly. About 43,000 homes worth between £200,000 and £300,000 exchanged hands in the summer, an increase of 11 per cent on the previous year.
Areas showing some of the sharpest falls in the number of transactions were in London and the South East where prices remain the highest. Sales in Greater London dropped nearly 18 per cent in the third quarter compared with the same period last year while the South East saw a decline of 17 per cent.
The London boroughs of Kensington and Chelsea, Islington and Wandsworth recorded falls in sales of more than 20 per cent.
The Land Registry figures are based on all property sales in England and Wales during the third quarter. The sales are registered with the registry within one month of completion, which is usually a couple of months after an offer has been accepted.
The figures show that house prices increased in all regions. However, the North of England saw the biggest gains as prices rose by just over 24 per cent, while Greater London lagged behind with a meagre rise of 5.4 per cent.
A spokesman for the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors said: “People have been nervous about putting their homes on the market because of the war in Iraq and uncertainty surrounding the economy. But these figures show that the underlying property market is still very strong.”
A spokesman for the Council of Mortgage Lenders said: “These figures reflect our own which show a decline in the number of loans for house purchases.”