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Last Updated: Monday, 12 February 2007, 11:13 GMT
Average house price hits 200,000
Estate agent's window
House prices have been accelerating across the UK
The average house price in the UK has now passed 200,000, says the Department for Communities & Local Government (DCLG).

The government's official house price index, published by the DCLG, says prices were rising at 9.9% a year in December, up from 8.8% in November.

That pushed the average UK house price up to 201,090.

The DCLG inflation rate is similar to other surveys, but the Halifax and the Nationwide say actual prices are lower.

It is not the first time that the average house price has been put at more than 200,000 by a survey.

Last November the Land Registry quarterly report for July to September said prices during the summer had broken through the 200,000 level to stand at 211,453.

For their part, the Halifax and the Nationwide say average prices, based on samples of their own mortgage lending, stand at 188,623 and 173,325 respectively.

"The DCLG data tend to provide lagging evidence on house prices, as the office calculates its index at the time when mortgages are completed," said Howard Archer of Global Insight.

No slowdown yet?

Despite reporting different price levels, due to different sampling techniques, there is no doubt that the surveys are all showing the same thing - that house prices have been accelerating across the country.

UK 2006 HOUSE PRICE INFLATION
UK 9.9%
England 8.9%
Wales 9.1%
Scotland 15.2%
N.Ireland 39.9%
North East 8.4%
North West 7.4%
Yorks & Humberside 9.9%
East Midlands 6.1%
West Midlands 7.8%
East 8.1%
London 11.8%
South East 8.7%
South West 7.7%
Source: DCLG

"With average house prices breaking the 200,000 mark in December, the housing market has breached a psychological barrier which will further the woes of first time buyers," said Oliver Gilmartin of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

"Even in the East Midlands, the average house price is now 146,183 which is over five times the average income," he added.

So far there has been little impact on house prices of the recent increases in interest rates announced by the Bank of England in an attempt to keep the lid on inflation.

But Howard Archer of Global Insight said: "There are tentative signs in the latest mortgage data and survey evidence that housing market activity has peaked, and it could be that the cumulative 75 basis points increase in interest rates enacted so far since last August is just starting to weigh down on the housing market."

Across the country the rapidity with which prices have been rising varies tremendously.

In Northern Ireland they are now 39.9% higher than a year ago, whereas in the East Midlands they have risen in that time by just 6.1%.

Most areas saw house prices rise faster in December, with the exceptions of Wales (down from 10.2% to 9.1%), the North West (8.4% to 7.4%) and the South West (7.8% to 7.7%).

House prices are still highest in London, averaging 296,160 while the lowest average prices are to be found in the North East at 146,183.


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