The most recent figures about house prices and the state of the housing market indicate a mixed picture.
The latest quarterly figures from the Nationwide show that UK house prices rose by 0.8 per cent in the period January to March, with the average house in the UK now costing £164,630, and by 0.2 per cent compared with the same quarter in 2012.
The average price of a house in England is £187,313, up 1.3 per cent on the last quarter. However, the picture is less optimistic for Northamptonshire where the average house now costs £164,158, down three per cent on the last quarter.
Figures from the Land Registry of England and Wales for October to December 2012 paint a similar picture, with its statistics showing an average house in the county costing £177,995, down 3.4 per cent on the quarter. Within these figures there are some signs of encouragement. The average cost of a house in Kettering is £167,839, up 7.5 per cent on the quarter.
Houses in East Northamptonshire cost more, with the average house costing £176,101 according to the Land Registry, a drop of almost 10 per cent on the quarter. Wellingborough also saw a drop, of 8.8 per cent, making an average house cost £149,535, but house prices in the town are up by 1.2 per cent annually.
Matt Sumpter, the managing director of Magenta estate agents, which has offices in Raunds and Irthlingborough, said: “2012 proved to be our busiest year since the credit crunch took hold in 2008 and this year has started in a very similar vein.
“We continue to see an increase in the number of first-timer buyers taking their first steps on to the property ladder, assisted by historically low mortgage rates – and very often a helping hand from the ‘bank of mum and dad’.
“The increase in first-time buyers has been an instrumental factor in stimulating our local market which has also been buoyed by the rising number of buyers relocating into the area who are recognising the superb value that East Northants’ property offers. My feeling is that, by the end of this year, we will see a modest rise in house prices of about three per cent.”
Chartered surveyors in the East Midlands reported an increase in the number of newly agreed house sales in January, suggesting the worst may be over for the region’s housing market. RICS East Midlands spokesman Jonathan O’Shea said: “The number of completed transactions is on the rise as some confidence returns.”