Estate Agent Boards Outside Houses

The average house price has gone above £230,000 for the first time, according to one estate agent.

Haart, the UK's largest independent estate agent, said prices went up 3.7% in between October and November to £231,857 - a 13.4% rise on November last year. And London prices grew by its fastest rate for six months at 3.4%, leaving average prices in the capital at £525,780.

The increases to stamp duty, which come into force from April, encouraged a fresh wave of buy-to-let mortgages, Haart said. The number of buy-to-let has risen dramatically in recent years, which the Bank of England says has raised house prices by around 16%. The Bank of England governor Mark Carney has promised action to tackle the issue of rising prices as a result of buy-to-let mortgages.

Haart's figures also suggest that the number of buy-to-let investors is not just having an impact on prices, it is deterring first-time buyers as well. Compared with October, the number of first-time buyers was down 7%, while the number of new buyers was up 7.5% compared with last year.

Paul Smith, chief executive of Haart, said: "This is the steepest monthly and annual increase on record and follows a surge in registrations from buy-to-let investors since the Autumn Statement in anticipation of the 3% stamp duty surcharge which is effective from the 1st of April 2016. This could mean the stamp duty payable on a property worth £275,000 could rise from £3,750 to £12,000.

“Although first-time buyer house prices have remained relatively stable, up just 1.1% in the last month, I expect these to shoot up over the coming months as first-time buyers face fierce competition from buy-to-let investors. The pressure is already being felt by many with demand among first-time-buyers already down 7% in the last month alone. While first-time buyers may face a tough couple of months, once the stamp duty changes come into effect in April, demand from buy-to-let investors is likely to recede so we should see a recovery in prices at this level.”