Average property prices reach highest level in 15 years, Rightmove says

**CAPTION NEEDS AMENDING BEFORE USE** GENERIC housing, rental, rent, property, buying, estate agent,

**CAPTION NEEDS AMENDING BEFORE USE** GENERIC housing, rental, rent, property, buying, estate agent, street, road, lane, letting, to let, building, development, neighbours, neighbourhood, council, city, Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

House sellers' average asking prices hit a record high of more than £313,000 in April, according to property website Rightmove.

Across England and Wales the average price tag on a property being put on the market increased by £3,547, or 1.1% month-on-month, to reach £313,655.

Rightmove, whose records go back to 2002, said the average asking price in April surpasses a previous high of £310,471 reached in June 2016.

The first-time buyer sector is driving price increases – asking prices in this market are up by 6.5% year-on-year, with the typical price tag on a first-time property (one with up to two bedrooms) now standing at a record high of £194,881.

Across all sectors, asking prices are up by 2.2% year-on-year across England and Wales. Regionally, the East of England has seen the strongest growth in asking prices over the last year, with a 5.3% uplift taking the average property price tag there to £349,269.

The website said strong numbers of house sales being agreed – at levels not seen since before the credit crunch – have helped to keep pushing asking prices upwards.

Miles Shipside, director of Rightmove, said there are signs of a 'strong spring market', which should help to offset any jitters in the market ahead of the general election on June 8.

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He said: 'Strong buyer activity this month has led to 10% higher numbers of sales agreed than in the same period in 2016.

'This large year-on-year disparity should be viewed cautiously as the comparable timespan in 2016 saw a drop in buy-to-let activity with the additional second home stamp duty.'

But he said sales agreed figures are also up by 3.8% when compared with two years ago.

'With the growth in household numbers and new-build supply struggling to keep pace, demand is strong and has led to the highest sales agreed numbers at this time of year since the heady pre-credit crunch levels,' he added.

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