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Market buoyancy goes well beyond the capital

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: April 24, 2014

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The latest official property market figures spell out in stark terms the plight of the first time buyer.

Numbers from the Office for National Statistics confirm what most of us have already observed from a cursory glance in our local estate agent's window: that prices are on the march.

At this point, commentators usually hurry to point out that the capital, a magnet for oligarchs from around the world, is different to the rest of the UK, as indeed it is.

Regions such as the North East, Northern Ireland and Scotland are a long way from a boom, and have seen sluggish increases of less than three per cent.

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But market buoyancy is not just confined to London.

Elsewhere in the north prices are increasing by more than five per cent, as they are in Wales and the South West, while the East Midlands and the east of England have seen rises of more than seven per cent.

All of this might be rather consoling for those of us lucky enough to own our homes already, since the typical owner-occupier selling up is receiving 8.6 per cent more than a year ago.

But it is deeply disheartening for first time buyers, who on average are paying prices a full 10.5 per cent higher than in February 2013.

It looks as though the Help to Buy scheme, aimed at giving first-time buyers a foot on the ladder, has been self-defeating by contributing to the rise in prices that keep property perpetually out of reach.

In the absence of increased supply, the scheme, that subsidises house purchases up to a generous £600,000, was always likely to be counter-productive.

The Bank of England, which has promised to be vigilant on the housing market overheating in general and on Help to Buy in particular, needs to be on its mettle.

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