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Figures reveal house price surge
House prices have risen at their fastest rate this year so far according to official figures which add to mounting evidence that the property market is bursting back into life.
Prices rose by 3.1% year-on-year in June to £242,000 on average, marking the strongest annual upturn recorded by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) in the last six months. On a monthly basis, values rose by 0.4%, equalling the increase recorded in May.
House prices in London have soared by 8.1% year-on-year, but growth remained patchy and in Scotland and Northern Ireland prices edged down by 0.9% and 0.4% respectively. Wales recorded the strongest annual house price growth of the UK nations at 4.3%, while England saw a 3.3% rise.
The report was released as the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) said it saw house prices rise at their fastest pace since their 2006 peak last month.
And mortgage lenders said that the number of buyers climbing onto the property ladder for the first time is at its highest level since the financial crash in 2007.
A string of reports have pointed to a buzz in housing market activity following the launch of various government schemes such as Funding for Lending and Help to Buy which have helped to unblock the housing market by making it easier to access a mortgage.
However, some experts warned that the Government's schemes could come back to "bite" and fears have been raised that the measures could lead to a property bubble, with borrowers over-stretching themselves.
The ONS figures showed that the average price paid by a first-time buyer has risen by 3.9% over the last year to reach £182,000.
Matthew Pointon, a property economist at Capital Economics, said: "Government boasts that their schemes to pump more credit into the housing market are now bearing fruit may soon come back to bite them, as housing costs become even more of a burden on stretched household finances.
"Meanwhile, more credit flowing into property means there is less available for the the part of the economy that really does need it - businesses."