House prices fall by nearly 10 per cent

HOUSE prices in Suffolk have fallen by 9.6% in a quarter, according to new figures - but estate agents have claimed the property market has begun to turn.

Jonathan Barnes

HOUSE prices in Suffolk have fallen by 9.6% in a quarter, according to new figures - but estate agents have claimed the property market has begun to turn.

The average price of a house in the county is now �173,596, a fall from �191,995 in the fourth quarter of last year and a drop of 16% year-on-year, according to Land Registry figures.

But agents said that first-time buyers were now snapping up bargains and renters had realised mortgage payments were more affordable.

They said the Land Registry figures were taken from house sale completions, and so were more of a reflection of the state of the market towards the end of last year.

National figures released by the Council of Mortgage Lending yesterday also show that 29% more house buyers applied to take out mortgages in March than the previous month.

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There was also a steep rise in the number of people buying their first home, with 12,500 first-timers taking out a mortgage during the month, accounting for 40% of all loans, the highest proportion since April 2005.

The Land Registry figures show the impact of the credit crunch on house prices, with average prices in the first quarter of this year ranging from �217,757 in Suffolk Coastal to �130,404 in Ipswich.

Price tags in every district saw a significant drop on the previous quarter and on 12 months previously.

But Charlie Wright, a partner in Fenn Wright estate agents in Ipswich, said the figures did not reflect the state of the market at the moment.

“They come from house sale completions, so probably reflect where the market was in September last year.

“We are certainly selling a lot of houses at the moment - we had 30 exchanges in April.

“There has been a big increase in willing buyers as a result of affordable mortgages and people moving out of rented properties into their own homes. Rents haven't come down like mortgage repayments.”

Peter Bolton King, chief executive of the National Association of Estate Agents, said: “First-time buyers believe that there are bargains to be had in property at the moment, and the upshot of this is that confidence is returning to the market.”