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BBC Wales's Caroline Evans reports
"Across the country the picture has been patchy"
 real 56k

The BBC's Jennie Scott
"There are already signs that the property market is cooling"
 real 56k

The BBC's Dharshini David
"The slowing of the global economy could make buyers more cautious"
 real 56k

Wednesday, 30 May, 2001, 16:15 GMT 17:15 UK
House price growth lags behind
Average house prices
Houses in a county in south Wales have fallen to the bottom of the UK price league according to the latest Land Registry figures.

The statistics show that Blaenau Gwent - which has been hit by the closure of the steelworks in Ebbw Vale - is the cheapest place to buy a house with the average price of property down to just 35,800.

Increases by region
Wales: 3.6%
North: 4.5%
London: 7.1%
South East: 12.9%
East Anglia: 13.8%

Meanwhile on average Monmouthshire has the most expensive properties in Wales at more than 99,500.

Across the rest of the UK the average house price rose an average 8,000 in England and Wales in the year to March - but homes in Wales saw the smallest rise.

However, the figures indicate that the rate of increase has slowed almost everywhere recently and prices dipped slightly in the first quarter of 2001.

Analysts are divided over the direction the market will take next, with some predicting a drop in prices while others maintain that low mortgage rates and high employment will continue to boost demand.

Average prices
England and Wales: 110,570.
London: 196,437
South East: 138,481
East Anglia: 93,874
Wales: 64,346.
North: 61,430

A survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), published on Wednesday, also said house prices in England and Wales were still rising as demand for property outstripped supply.

The RICS survey found that during the first three months of the year 37% more chartered surveyors and estate agents reported seeing a rise in property prices than those who recorded a fall or thought prices remained the same.

Market 'stable'

It also found that the number of property sales in England and Wales had increased by 12% since last November, despite estate agents having only half as many properties on their books compared with 1995.

A spokesman for the RICS said the rise in demand combined with a shortage of properties for sale was fuelling the rise in prices.

He added that the figures showed the housing market remained stable and did not look as though it was heading for a bust.

Annual growth

According to the Land Registry figures, the average price of a house in England and Wales rose by 7.6% since March 2000 to 110,570.

The pace of growth was quickest in East Anglia, where the average price of a house rose 13.8% to 93,874 during the year, and in the South East, where they were up 12.9% to 138,481.

The cheapest average house prices were in the North, where they rose 4.5% to 61,430, with the weakest annual growth in Wales, ahead 3.6% at 64,346.

Greater London house prices averaged at 196,437, up 7.1% on a year earlier and significantly higher than the 177,949 recorded three months ago.

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See also:

21 May 01 | Business
Fears of crash blight housing market
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Housing market steady
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UK trims rates 0.25%
03 Apr 01 | Business
Foot-and-mouth hits house prices
21 Feb 01 | Business
Halifax stokes mortgage war
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Analysis: Cheaper mortgages for all?
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