July high

Up, down, shake it all around – predicting the behaviour of house prices is a pretty hapless task. We've become accustomed these days to hearing about house prices falling but new figures just in for July show a 1.3 percent rise, making the average price of a property in England and Wales £163,049.

Peter Bolton King, chief executive of the National Association of Estate Agents, welcomed the news. He said: 'Buyers are coming back to the market – our figures show the average number of house-hunters registered per branch increased significantly in July, from 263 in June to 299. This is an unprecedented increase for what is traditionally a very quiet time.'

'As mortgage conditions are more favourable now than at any time in the last three years, those in a position to buy are coming out of the woodwork and benefiting from prices that are, overall, still lower than a year ago.'

But with less planning permission for new homes granted, Stewart Baseley, executive chairman of the Home Builders Federation (HBF) argued that the figures paint a bleak picture. We already have an acute housing crisis that is affecting the quality of life of families – young and old – across the country, and the economy. Today's extremely low levels of permissions will only make things worse in the short term,' he said.

'Our housing crisis is set to worsen. Government must stand firm and deliver a planning system that supports home building and economic growth. If it doesn't, the social and economic implications will be felt for generations.'

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