Belfast Telegraph

'Eye-watering' increases in house sellers' asking prices reported

House sellers' asking prices jumped to a new record high of £308,151 on average in May, with some towns seeing "eye-watering" increases, property website Rightmove has reported.

Across England and Wales, the average price tag on a property coming to market has increased by £1,118 month-on-month.

The price uplift comes despite a three percentage point stamp duty hike for buy-to-let investors, imposed on April 1, which it was thought would take some heat out of the market.

The price of a home with two bedrooms or fewer has leapt by £11,298 over the last month alone to reach £194,224 on average, Rightmove said.

Homes in this "entry level" bracket are typically sought after by both first-time buyers and buy-to-let investors.

Miles Shipside, Rightmove director, said that a rush of buy-to-let investors snapping up properties before the April 1 stamp duty deadline had resulted in "a famine of suitable property and higher prices".

He continued: "Estate agents have perhaps been focused on getting investor sales through to completion before the tax hike, and some may have been surprised by the continuing momentum and scarcity of stock to meet ongoing demand.

"The net effect is eye-watering increases in asking prices in some towns, and is further stretching first-time buyers' affordability even though they are competing against fewer buy-to-let investors in the market."

Rightmove said the country's top hotspot was Croydon, with Dartford also a popular area for people priced out of London.

Asking prices in the first-time buyer sector in Croydon have surged by 18.6% annually and now average £297,770. Dartford has seen an 18.5% jump in the average seller's asking price in the first-time buyer sector, which now stands at £244,310.

But some places have seen falls in asking prices for a typical first-time buyer home. In Llandudno in North Wales, the average asking price for a first-time buyer home has fallen by 7.5% over the last year, to £145,703.

Across all property types across the regions, asking prices in London and the East of England have seen double-digit growth over the last year.

Asking prices in London have seen a 10.8% annual increase, taking the average price in the capital to £644,088. In the East of England, asking prices have increased by 10.1% annually to reach £334,538 on average.

All regions have seen asking prices increase over the last year, with Wales seeing the smallest growth at 1.6%. The average asking price in Wales is £181,579.

Here are the regional hotspots with the highest and lowest annual increases in asking prices in the first time-buyer sector, according to Rightmove. Properties in the first-time buyer sector generally have two bedrooms or less. The table shows the annual asking price change and the average asking price in May 2016:

:: East Midlands: High, Northampton, 8.1%, £146,132; Low, Nottingham, 4.1%, £117,013

:: East of England: High, Luton, 18.4%, £186,900; Low, Peterborough, 5.4%, £143,660

:: Greater London, High, Croydon, 18.6%, £297,770; Low, West London, 3.3%, £751,836

:: North East, High, Newcastle, 3.4%, £109,495; Low, Darlington, minus 3.0%, £92,639

:: North West, High, Manchester, 8.2%, £124,888; Low, Preston, minus 1.3%, £116,367

:: South East, High, Dartford, 18.5%, £244,310; Low, Portsmouth, 7.1%, £182,404

:: South West, High, Bristol, 13.0%, £212,298; Low, Exeter, minus 0.8%, £178,675

:: Wales, High, City of Newport, 3.3%, £106,326; Low, Llandudno, minus 7.5%, £145,703

:: West Midlands, High, Birmingham, 7.9%, £136,429; Low, Hereford, minus 1.7%, £158,250

:: Yorkshire and the Humber, High, Halifax, 8.7%, £108,046; Low, Huddersfield, minus 0.2%, £105,946