After years of stability, Britain is facing property price mayhem. Prices are starting to seriously wobble in some parts of the country, but storming ahead in others.
Just this week, official figures revealed that in London, once the darling of the housing market, prices are now falling at their fastest rate since the financial crisis of 2008.
Yet up in the North-West, growth is solid at 3.4 per cent.
Meanwhile, regions scattered up and down the country report prices increasing by more than 13 per cent, and falls of nearly 10 per cent.
So how on earth are buyers and sellers supposed to make sense of what is happening?
For most people, buying a house is one of the most important financial decisions they will ever make, which is nerve-racking enough.
After years of stability, Britain is facing property price mayhem. Prices are starting to seriously wobble in some parts of the country, but storming ahead in others
But with political uncertainty around the country's next Prime Minister, a potential General Election and concerns around how Brexit will play out, buyers are even more rattled than usual and this is impacting prices.
Far fewer sales are going through. And those that do are rarely for the original asking price. Buyers want a discount to recognise the extra risk they are taking in an uncertain market.
There will always be some people who have to sell as a result of what estate agents refer to as the three 'Ds' — divorce, death and debt.
But more potential sellers who do not have to move are opting to stay in the hope that prices recover when the country has some certainty regarding its political future.
WHAT IS GOING ON IN LONDON?
House prices in the capital are plummeting at their fastest rate in a decade, dropping 4.4 per cent in the year to May.
This is largely because prices have soared more there than in any other part of the country since the 2007-08 financial crisis, which means they have further to fall.
Even with property prices falling, it still typically costs an average of £457,471 to buy a house in London — almost twice the UK average at £229,431.
In fact, it is now so expensive many first-time buyers have given up and are sticking to renting. Even just raising a 5 per cent deposit would require someone to save nearly £23,000.
With political uncertainty around the country's next Prime Minister (frontrunner Boris Johnson pictured), a potential General Election and concerns around how Brexit will play out, buyers are even more rattled than usual and this is impacting prices
Meanwhile, families have been deterred from moving up the property ladder because of high stamp duty charges.
New stamp duty rules in 2014 pushed up the cost of moving for anyone buying a house worth more than £937,500. But even those purchasing properties worth £500,000 — which is not far off the average property price in London — face a £15,000 tax bill.
London was also once considered the buy-to-let capital. But with the average yield earned by landlords lower as a result of high property prices, it has also been worst hit by a punitive clampdown on landlords' profits.
Foreign investors are also starting to wonder if London is quite such an attractive destination as it once was — particularly in the present political climate.
However, with the pound falling against the euro and dollar, there may still be bargains for foreign investors.
THE PROPERTY HOTSPOTS . . .
All eyes are on the North-West and the Midlands. By region, the North-West recorded the highest annual house price growth at 3.4 per cent in the year to May 2019. Close behind is the West Midlands, where prices increased by 2.7 per cent, according to the Office For National Statistics (ONS).
The North-West has been transformed in recent years, with Liverpool voted European City of Culture and the regeneration of Salford Quays in Manchester.
Meanwhile, the Midlands' economy has been boosted by big firms such as HSBC opening offices and warehouses in the region.
HS2, the high-speed railway which, it is planned, will connect London to towns in the Midlands and the North, is also helping to boost prices.
The North-West has been transformed in recent years, with Liverpool voted European City of Culture and the regeneration of Salford Quays (Media City pictured) in Manchester
In fact, there has already been an exodus from London as families search for more affordable housing, with flexible working and better broadband making it easier for people to work from home.
Despite this, there are some towns and cities elsewhere in the country where house prices have done even better. In England, West Somerset saw prices jump a huge 13.9 per cent over the year to May, while West Devon recorded an 11.1 per cent rise.
Back in the North-West, Craven and Burnley saw prices rise by 10 per cent, and Derbyshire Dales by 9.4 per cent. Halton in Cheshire recorded a 8.3 per cent rise.
Also in the top ten for house price growth were Forest Heath, Suffolk, at 9 per cent, North Devon at 8.7 per cent, Barnsley at 8.3 per cent and Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, at 8 per cent.
At a country level, Wales saw the largest annual price growth at 3 per cent.
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