London home prices hit fresh record

LONDON • Asking prices for London homes reached another record this month as the winter lull in the market came to an end.

The 5.4 per cent monthly surge puts the average price at £643,843 (S$1.3 million), property website operator Rightmove said yesterday.

Inner London surged almost 8 per cent to £848,000. Nationally, prices rose 2.9 per cent in February from January. The report also showed that new property listings nationally increased 5 per cent in the past year, with the number of smaller properties up 10 per cent.

But that appears to have done little to ease pressure in the London market. Prices advanced in 23 of 32 boroughs in February and are up 11 per cent on the year.

In London's cheapest district, Barking & Dagenham, asking prices have soared 23 per cent to £291,638 since early last year.

Mr Simon Woodcock, managing director at estate agent Robinson Michael & Jackson, said that young Londoners struggling to save a deposit are turning to their parents, with many of the latter remortgaging their own homes to help.

To help first-time buyers in the capital, the government announced measures in November, including interest-free loans worth as much as 40 per cent of the value of a newly built home as part of its Help-to-Buy programme.

"Home-ownership plans for some are even further out of reach," said Rightmove director Miles Shipside. With an income cap on the government scheme, the increase "takes the price of many properties out of reach for average earners in London".

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 16, 2016, with the headline 'London home prices hit fresh record'. Print Edition | Subscribe