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House prices rise, but not reflected throughout UK

It may be one of the best times to sell a house fast in the UK, given the “volatile” outlook for the property market. According to the latest Halifax House Price Index, house prices have risen by one per cent in June to an average of £162,417, though this is simply not reflected across the country.

The high street lender explained that while the first six months of 2012 has seen a bit of a rollercoaster for the market - including four monthly price rises and two drops, with one of these being a 2.3 per cent plummet in April - a lot of these fluctuations rest squarely on the shoulders of London’s property market.

This is because, over the last year, house prices in the capital have risen by over seven per cent, while areas such as the north-east and Yorkshire have fallen by upwards of three per cent.

On top of this, Halifax’s housing economist Martin Ellis was pretty keen to underline how the end of the stamp duty holiday for first-time buyers at the end of March had “distorted house price movements and sales in recent months”; while he believes it will stabilise, he was careful not to forecast the future direction of housing costs.

Meanwhile, director of online estate agents Russell Quirk said it would be wrong to assume that the housing market was strong; if a property needs to be sold, he explained to the Guardian, it’s now or never. He said: “Anyone looking to sell in the current market has to put their property on at the right price, or be prepared to wait indefinitely. Buyers know they have a strong hand right now.”

Countryside dwellers experiencing double inflation

Homeowners in the countryside are feeling the effect of inflation more heavily than those living in cities, research suggests. According to NFU Mutual, inflation in the countryside has risen at twice the national average in the past year.

With the high cost of living leaving many property buyers considering a quick home sale to reduce the debt burden, this research indicates that those in the countryside may be more likely to follow this path. The national average Consumer Prices Index inflation rate for the last 12 months has been 4.3 per cent, but the typical rural resident has faced a rate of 7.7 per cent. NFU suggests that for the purchase of household ‘essentials’, countryside residents had to pay an extra £2,000 in the last year.

NFU says there is a five to ten per cent “rural premium” on everyday goods, while the high cost of heating oil - often used as an alternative to mains gas supply in remote areas - also adds to the problem. Greater reliance on private transport in the countryside also means that high fuel prices are also felt more strongly.

Richard Percy, chairman of NFU Mutual, says that although it has already been concluded that people in the countryside enjoy a better quality of life than those in urban area, the cost of living is becoming “increasingly difficult”.

“While there are clearly lots of people who pay this ‘countryside premium’ willingly, and can well afford to do so, we can not lose sight of the fact that there are also many others in rural areas who don’t enjoy the luxury of being able to move to cheaper areas and are struggling to make ends meet,” he added.

House price drop hides north-south divide

UK houses prices continue to edge downwards - but not in every part of the country. According to data from mortgage lender Nationwide, the average UK house price is dropping, though there remains a clear north-south divide in the detail of the figures.

In the second quarter of 2012, Nationwide established that the average UK house price fell one per cent to reach £164,955. The lender then divided the UK into 13 regions, finding that nine of them saw an overall drop in the cost of a typical home. While this is good news for property buyers, it is not so welcome for sellers.

Region by region, the worst performing area in the second quarter was Scotland, where house prices dropped two per cent, while prices in Wales dropped 1.1 per cent in Q2. However, when comparing the quarter to the same period last year, the stand-out worst performer is Northern Ireland, where prices have plunged 10.6 per cent in 12 months. The worst performance from an English region came from the north-west, with a 4.1 per cent year-on-year drop.

So where were the positive results? London actually saw the typical house price grow by one per cent in the second quarter, and growth in the regions of the south-west, outer south-east, outer metropolitan, London and East Anglia continued to exceed growth in the north for the 13th consecutive quarter.

Is it time to sell your home fast? House prices have fallen

The typical price for a house in the UK fell by 0.6 per cent this month, and the economic uncertainty which lies ahead may well prompt homeowners to look for property buyers to buy their house quickly.

Research by Nationwide showed that the price for the average UK house is the lowest it’s been since August 2009. Having fallen by 0.6 per cent in June, the average UK house price is now just £165,738. This figure shows that house prices are now 1.5 per cent lower than they were a year ago.

When looking to the future, Nationwide’s chief economist Robert Gardner said it was difficult to make predictions as conditions in the economy were likely to remain challenging over the next year.

Mr Gardner said the reduction in prices could be down to the UK economy slipping back into recession early on in 2012, but also the ending of the stamp duty holiday, which had bolstered the market previously, may have had an impact. During the holiday, some house buyers chose to buy their homes earlier than they would normally have done, in order to benefit from the financial relief offered by the scheme.

Mr Gardner did offer a glimmer of hope, however, saying: “Policymakers’ efforts to bolster the supply of credit to the economy and to help lower the cost should provide support to demand. Moreover, the supply side of the market is still constrained, with construction failing to keep pace with the number of new households being formed.”

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