House prices down 10.1%

01 December 2008 / by Rachel Mason
House prices have fallen 10.1 per cent between October 2007 and October 2008, according to the latest statistics from the Land Registry.

The monthly decline in October of 1.5 per cent marks the 14th consecutive month where annual price change has decreased in England and Wales.

The average house is now worth £165,529, down from £168,814 in September this year and from £184,214 last October; prices are now at a similar level to what they were during the summer of 2006.

According to the study, every region in England and Wales has seen a decrease in property values over the last 12 months and it is Wales that has been hit the hardest with a decline of 12 per cent since last October and a 2.8 per cent drop since last month.

The smallest monthly fall in prices is the West Midlands which saw a decline of 0.6 per cent while London has seen the smallest annual decline at 8.6 per cent.

Between May and August 2008, sales averaged at 54,488 per month – the same period last year saw sales volumes averaging at 118,165.

Top price house sales have seen an even bigger decline, with the number of properties worth more than £1million sold in August 2008 down 56 per cent on August 2007 and August 2008, falling from 922 to 410.

But, some economists say the Government data is not quite right.

Commenting on the figures, Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said that although Land Registry data shows house prices fell 1.5% in October taking the annual rate of decline to 10.1%, the actual fall is probably more.

Recent figures from the Halifax and Nationwide house price indexes reveal property values falling by 15 per cent and 13.9 per cent respectively, and RICS says the Government figures may not be telling the full story.

"This is still below the falls signalled by both the Nationwide Building Society and HBOS," said Mr Rubinsohn.

"Land Registry figures, which tend to lag the cycle because of the point in the process at which they are captured, are likely to weaken further over coming months."

While housing expert Henry Pryor told the Guardian that the fact that repossessions are excluded from the Land Registry data means the "figures from the Land Registry are just inaccurate."

"Repossessions make up a significant part of total sales right now and will be making up an even greater number of transactions in the future," he argued, "Excluding auctions is even harder to justify. Auctions are the closest you can get to the definition of open market value."

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