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UK housing bubble fears continue to grow

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Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Housing

UK housing bubble fears continue to grow UK housing bubble fears continue to grow

Fears of a nation-wide housing bubble grew today after startling new figures revealed how demand for homes was far out-stripping supply, pushing up prices in the process.

House sellers are on average achieving 96.2% of their asking price - the highest proportion seen in a decade, property analyst Hometrack has found.

In London, sellers are getting around 99.3% of their asking price and across every region the figure is above 93%, pointing to further price rises, the Hometrack research revealed.

Across England and Wales, the length of time properties are typically spending on the market before being snapped up has dropped to just under eight weeks for the first time since 2007, while homes in London are taking just over two and a half weeks on average to sell.

House prices increased by 0.6% month-on-month in March, which is slightly down on a 0.7% rise in February, although for the second month in a row half of postcodes across the country reported rising property values.

Prices rose by 0.2% in Yorkshire and Humberside and the North West, by 0.3% in the West Midlands and the North East, by 0.4% in the East Midlands, by 0.6% in Wales, by 0.7% in the South East and London and by 0.8% in the South West and East Anglia.

Richard Donnell, director of research at Hometrack, said that while there has been much talk of the impact on the housing market of the government's help to buy scheme to help people with low mortgage deposits, overall sales supported by help to buy are "relatively small".

He said: "The real driver of higher house prices is record low mortgage rates and strong demand from first-time buyers and investors who have no property to sell, which is compounding scarcity.

"With average mortgage rates currently at 3% or lower, compared to over 5% before the downturn, households have seen a significant boost to buying power."

Hometrack said the scale of the increases in the coming months will depend on the willingness of existing home owners and investors to bid up the price of housing.

Toughened mortgage rules are set to come into force next month which will mean lenders have to make sure that people can not only afford their mortgage repayments now, but also when interest rates eventually start to rise.

But Hometrack pointed out that cash buyers and investors, who account for up to two fifths of sales, will not be affected by these changes.

Mr Donnell said: "The gap between supply and demand has been extended for the last five months and points to further price rises in the months ahead."

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