Despite this, the average asking price of £600,926 for a property in London is still more than double the national average of £297,587, even though every other UK region recording positive house price growth over the past 12 months.
HOW DO THE REGIONS COMPARE?
The West Midlands recorded the strongest annual growth of 5.8 per cent, taking average asking prices to just below £215,000.
Homes in the West Midlands, which includes the city of Birmingham, take about 57 days to sell on average, faster than in any other region in England and Wales.READ MOREHow much has the average house price gone up in a year?
Wales and the North West have been the next strongest-performing regions during the past 12 months, with price rises of 5.7 per cent and 5.5 per cent respectively.
Greater London emerges as the worst-performing region, with prices down 3.5 per cent in a year.
Sellers across the capital have wiped an average of £9,000 off asking prices in just one month since December in an effort to attract new year buyers.
However, falls in asking prices are not London-wide and are dragged down by high prices and a lack of sales in the most expensive central parts of the capital.
“While Zone 5 has also dropped marginally year-on-year, it is property in Zones 2 and 3 that has been the biggest contributor to London’s 3.5 per cent annual fall,” says Rightmove director, Miles Shipside.
Sellers in Zone 1, which takes in the majority of prime central London, seem to be holding off until the market becomes more favourable, which has resulted in a 17 per cent cut in new listings compared to the same month last year.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR THE YEAR AHEAD?
Today’s data reveals that the pace of growth in asking prices nationwide is consistent with this time last year.
However, the number of sales agreed in the last quarter of 2017 is lower than a year ago in all regions, showing that buyers’ affordability is still stretched. Keen sellers will have to price realistically to secure a sale.
“Setting tempting asking prices and then quickly reducing them if there is little initial interest will be key to turning this promising level of buyer activity into actual sales, especially in the less active sectors and locations of the UK,” says Shipside.
The stamp duty exemption given to buyers of properties priced below £300,000 means there is more demand for homes in this sector.
If supply continues to be limited, prices are likely to rise faster, so first-timers in a position to buy should move quickly.
Shipside predicts: “Those selling to ‘quick-off-the-block stamp-duty-saving first-time buyers’ are set to have a busier first quarter than those trying to sell in other sectors.
“We expect that many first-time buyers will act fast to satisfy their appetite to get onto the housing ladder and secure their property at today’s prices, before any stamp duty savings are eaten up by rising property prices.”