Towns near London see property prices boom

by Jonathan Adams

The commuter towns of Slough, Luton and Reading have become Britain’s latest property hubs, with annual price growth running at up to 19%, according to new official data.

The latest Land Registry figures also reveal that the average cost of a home in England and Wales stood at £190,275 in February which is 6.1% higher than a year earlier, but down slightly on the January figure of £191,812.

According to housing charity, Shelter, wages in England and Wales only rose 1.6% in the past year. It warned that for millions of ordinary families who were priced out of the market, “these sky-high house prices mean the dream of a place to call home is fast becoming nothing more than a fantasy”.

The figures showed that annual price growth in London is running at 13.5%, which is more than double the national average, with the typical price of a property in the capital now £530,368.

However, several towns and areas have better figures: Slough in Berkshire topped the chart with a 19% annual increase, lifting the typical price-tag to around £236,000. In Luton in Bedfordshire, property values are up 17% on a year earlier, taking the average to £169,000, while in Reading, also in Berkshire, prices are up 14.6% in a year, with the typical price there now £270,000.

The figures confirm that those priced out of the capital prefer more affordable areas within commuting distance. Essex borough of Thurrock is another area which is being preferred by Londoners in search of cheaper property options and includes the towns of Grays, Tilbury and Purfleet. The rate of annual price growth in Thurrock in February stood at 17.2%, with the average price there said to be around £194,000.

Commenting on the data, David Brown, chief executive of estate agent Marsh & Parsons, said, “An overall monthly dip in property prices in February disguises the fact that the majority of regions are experiencing striking growth. In the capital, annual growth has climbed to comfortably double the wider England and Wales average”.

Separate figures from the Office for National Statistics, also published on Wednesday, revealed that tenants in Great Britain paid 2.6% more for housing in February than they did a year previously.

Demand for rented property has grown as would-be buyers have found themselves priced out of the housing market, and this has in turn driven up rents.

The biggest increase in rents was seen in London, with tenants in the capital paying 3.8% more than a year previously, though this is down slightly on the 3.9% figure recorded a month earlier. Average rents were up 3% in the east of England and 2.9% in the south-east.

ONS said, “Annual price increases have been stronger in London than the rest of England since November 2010”. It added that the lowest annual rental price increases were seen in north-east England (0.9%) and the north west (1%).

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