Things are looking up as the market surges – largely thanks to the Help to Buy scheme. UK house values remained on an upward trajectory in January, displaying 6.8% growth compared with the same period a year earlier, official figures showed this week. This was the most pronounced monthly increase in residential property prices since August 2008, and it even exceeded forecasts made by analysts from Bloomberg, who had expected growth of 6.6%

According to data by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), prices advanced by 7.1% in England, 6.9% in Wales, 2.7% in Northern Ireland and 1.4% Scotland. Overall, the pace of growth was greater than the 5.5% rate measured in December on a national level, bringing the average UK house prices to £254,000, ONS said.

The growth in prices was still fuelled by buyers’ increasing demand, underpinned by the government’s affordable ownership schemes and the rising optimism about the economy. The continuing shortage of inventory was another factor supporting the increase in prices across all parts of the UK.

London and the South East again led the growth in home values, seeing respective rises of 13.2% and 7.1%. In the capital, the average price was estimated at £458,000; three times higher than the average price of residential property in the North East.

Without taking price growth in London and the South East into account, the rate of growth would decline to 3.8% for the 12 months to January.

ONS also said that in January, first-time buyers paid 7.6% more for their purchase than the previous year, while the price for existing owners was 6.5% higher.

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