Official figures suggest that Britain's house prices could be recovering, with annual growth up 5.2pc in the year to December, an increase of 0.2pc from November.
The data, published by HM Land Registry and Office for National Statistics (ONS), shows that while the annual growth rate has lingered around 5pc throughout 2017, prices appear to be rising.
The average house stood at £227,000 in December, £12,000 higher than in December 2016 and £1,000 higher than last month.
Despite reports of a sluggish housing market in London, prices have rebounded in the capital, rising by an average £4,000 between November and December, following a fall of £6,000 between October and November.
Regionally, the South West showed the highest annual growth, with prices increasing by 7.5pc in the year to December. This was followed by the East Midlands and the West Midlands, which both recorded annual growth of 6.3pc. London experienced the lowest annual growth, at 2.5pc.
Somewhat surprisingly, the area showing the largest annual growth in the year to December was the Orkney Islands, where prices increased by 18.2pc to stand at £147,000. The lowest annual growth was recorded in Kensington and Chelsea, where prices fell by 10.7pc to an average £1.2m.
In December, property portal Zoopla reported that 40pc of property listings in London had seen a price reduction. That figure was up by an average of £53,251, from 37pc in July, with Kensington and Chelsea the most discounted borough, where average reductions were just under £130,000.
Jeremy Duncombe, director at Legal & General Mortgage Club said the ONS figures show house prices rising at "healthier levels than in previous years" and are now more aligned with wage inflation. "Couple this with competitive mortgage rates [and first-time buyers should find it that little bit easier to get onto the property ladder," he said.
James Cameron, director of estate agency Vesper Homes, said landlords are selling up in London and looking for buy-to-let opportunities elsewhere, which is benefiting first-time buyers in the capital. He said: "When it comes to properties costing less than £350,000 in London, once you take into account taxes, agent fees and mortgages it doesn’t make it economical for landlords to rent them as they just cover the cost.
"Landlords are therefore selling up so they can invest outside of London or trade up to a larger property which frees up the smaller ones for first-time buyers."
House price growth has slowed over the past year, and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) said last week that the market would remain sluggish in 2018. Its chief economist said the "lack of inventory on agents’ books" was continuing to prove "a major challenge", adding that the number of valuations being undertaken was "not suggestive of a pick-up in new supply anytime soon".
Capital Economics has forecast that house prices will grow by 2pc in 2018, while JLL predicted that the average UK property would rise in value by just 1pc.
Standard & Poor's estimated house prices would rise by 0.5pc this year, a lower rate than many other forecasts.
Source: The Telegraph