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Last Updated: Tuesday, 9 May 2006, 05:58 GMT 06:58 UK
Jump in number of property sales
London sky line

The number of home sales in England and Wales jumped by 37% during January to March compared with the same period a year ago, the Land Registry has said.

Prices in England and Wales rose 5.05% in the year to 31 March, the registry said, to an average of 192,745.

Wealthy City financiers and foreign buyers pushed London prices 6% higher to more than 300,000 on average.

The biggest increases were seen in the north-east of England, while Conwy in Wales suffered the largest drop.

Million-pound market

Not surprisingly, London dominates the market for the most expensive houses which cost more than 1m each.

Average Cost: 192,745
Change in last year: +5.05%

A total of 1,032 1m-plus homes were sold in England and Wales during the first three months of this year - 58% more than a year ago - with 652 of these properties in London.

Within London, the most expensive boroughs to buy a home were Kensington & Chelsea (average 827,553), Westminster (637,954) and Camden (498,702).

The average cost of a home in the capital first breached the 100,000 mark in the second quarter of 1996, and it passed the 200,000 mark between April and June 2001.

Although the average London property has now passed the 300,000 mark, average prices are actually higher in Buckinghamshire (307,451) and Surrey (318,980) as the property market in the capital is heavily skewed towards cheaper properties such as flats and terraced houses.

There are relatively fewer of these in the home counties, so the average property price there is driven up by the relative preponderance of the more expensive detached houses.

Recovery

The latest Land Registry figures confirm recent trends from other property market observers, such as mortgage lenders and estate agents, who have also reported prices picking up across the country in the early months of 2006.

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In the last 12 months, the biggest increases have been seen in the North East of England.

Prices in Hartlepool have shot up by 32% to nearly 99,000 on average, prices in Middlesbrough by 23% and those in Kingston-upon-Hull by 17%.

Despite the general upward trend, a few parts of the country still saw a dip in prices in the past year - including Bristol, Cornwall, Nottinghamshire and East Sussex.

Prices in Conwy, Wales, experienced the biggest drop, falling almost 7% from last year's levels.

Meanwhile, the very cheapest houses continue to disappear from the market.

In the first three months of this year, just 18 properties were sold for less than 10,000.

Land Registry house price graph




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