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People

North Vs. South
Towns & Villages
Road/Rail/Air
Property Types
Prices


Map shows Surrey boundary. Shaded area is now part of Greater London.


Surrey - a good place to live

With its proximity to London and beautiful countryside Surrey has for long been a desirable place to live.

Today Surrey also boasts:

Excellent international links -easy reach of Heathrow, Gatwick and Eurostar.

Good road connections - the M25, which sweeps across the north of Surrey, links with the national motorway network.
Good schooling (state, private and international).
An outstanding range of beautiful houses.
Thousands of acres of woods and heathland, many of which are freely accessible for public enjoyment. Surrey is the most densely wooded county in England.
The lowest crime rate of any county in England.
Great sporting opportunities – horseracing, horse-riding, tennis, cycling, village cricket and more golf courses than any other English county.
Quality shopping.
A wealth of dining experiences.

It’s not surprising therefore that homes in Surrey are much in demand. Indeed, apart from London, Surrey has on average the most expensive property in the UK. Of course, this is bad news for home buyers but on the positive side this also means that Surrey property has proved to be an excellent long-term investment.

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Surrey People

What kind of people live in Surrey?

Usually when journalists refer to Surrey they sloppily still use the outdated cliche "Surrey's stockbroker belt" which refers back to the early part of the last century when affluent City professionals commuted by train from large mock Tudor houses in Surrey and enjoyed a privileged lifestyle - playing golf, (the wife played tennis) superintending the gardener and driving the Jaguar or Bentley to the local pub for a gin and tonic. Maybe this stereotype did once exist in vast numbers, but no longer, and today you are as likely to find a very different type of wealthy person living down a Surrey lane. There are pop stars ( Eric Clapton at Ewhurst, Mick Hucknall at Walton-on-Thames, Brian May at West End, Woking) filn stars (Michael Caine at Leatherhead, Judi Dench at Outwood, Antonio Banderas at Cobham) and sport superstars (Andy Murray at Oxshott, Colin Montgomerie and Jamie Redknap in Oxshott, Phil Tufnell in Tadworth). Lots of Chelsea Football Club players, including John Terry, the former England football captain, have moved into the environs of Cobham, following the establishment of their training ground in the small town. Surrey even has a smattering of royals - Prince Edward (the Queen’s youngest son) and his wife live at Bagshot Park near Woking.

The same qualities that attract celebrities (large houses in private settings and excellent transport communications with London and the rest of the world) also attract successful business people from around the globe. The ACS International Schools at Cobham and Egham (with students from nearly 50 nationalities) and TASIS The American School in England at Thorpe act as magnets for foreigners needing to buy or rent near London, but wanting to live somewhere quieter and greener. Today there are large numbers of American, Scandinavian, German, Dutch, Far Eastern, Italian (particularly at Woking) and now even Russian residents in key areas of Surrey. Indeed, the hugely expensive St. George's Hill private estate at Weybridge has acted as a magnet for Russians and today around a quarter of the properties are owned by Russians or East Europeans. Not surprisingly, parts of Surrey can have a rather cosmopolitan atmosphere, and in shops in places like Cobham or Esher you are as likely to hear a foreign accent or a foreign language as an English voice.

Towns near the M25, such as Guildford, Chertsey and Leatherhead, have grown as major business centres in their own right, and major companies have moved into new European headquarters in Surrey. The county has a high global profile in the international computer and technology industries. Also the county has a strong entrepreneurial element and a recent survey found that there are more start-up businesses with big turnovers in Surrey than in any other county outside London. Thus while once Surrey was a domitory county, where residents had to commute to London to earn high salaries, this is no longer the case and many highly-paid Surrey residents now work within the county.

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Surrey - North versus South

Surrey has a variety of different identities and there is a marked difference between the north and the south of the county. Much of north-eastern Surrey has been swallowed up by London, so that the towns of Richmond, Kingston, Sutton, Merton, and Croydon are now London Boroughs, though they are still geographically in Surrey. These areas are either urban or suburban with high density housing, but some do have pockets of green open spaces (in the case of Richmond Park an extremely large pocket).

The further south you go in the county, the more rural and greener it becomes. In general, south of the greater London boundary, it is a leafier, more spacious environment; and south of the M25, the landscape becomes even more expansive, with a rolling countryside that is dotted by small and often very pretty villages.

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Surrey towns and villages

Surrey’s major towns in general still manage to retain distinctive personalities; the southern towns of Guildford, Farnham, Dorking, Haslemere and Reigate have county town atmospheres. Richmond, Guildford and Woking are particularly strong on cultural pursuits and are well supplied with the usual range of shops and retail chains. Kingston and Croydon provide a huge choice of retailers, including large department stores, while Richmond aims to be a trendier, more exclusive shopping experience. Guildford, Dorking, Farnham and Reigate retain a slightly more old-fashioned approach and more independent shops, although Guildford (now a thriving employment centre in its own right) has a sophisticated edge.

Surrey is renowned for having some of the prettiest, and most photographed, villages in England, typically set around a large green, with an assortment of mellow, period houses usually accompanied by an ancient church. Brockham, Chiddingfold, Dunsfold, Shere and Shamley Green are among the most picturesque villages. In some villages, an old-fashioned community spirit persists. Creeping suburbanisation has ravaged many other former villages but vestiges of former charms can still be seen in places such as Ewell, Carshalton, Merstham , Godstone and Shepperton.

KINGSTON TOWN CENTRE

CHIDDINGFOLD GREEN

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Road/Rail/Air

Road Communications

Today we are so much dependent on the car that our daily living patterns are often determined by the road systems near our homes. Surrey enjoys some good fast roads, but as it is an affluent county, traffic flows on Surrey roads are almost twice the national average. All over the county, former quiet residential roads that can provide alternative access to towns and villages, or to key routes, are now heavy with traffic. Indeed, the junctions in such residential roads are often clogged with lengthy traffic queues during the rush hour and it sometimes seems that the county is running out of road space. It is vital that prospective buyers do not limit their property viewing to weekends, but to check the traffic situation during peak times on weekdays.

The efficiency of the road network varies enormously across the county with many A roads passing through towns and villages, rather than skirting them. In general, the west and centre of the county has a better road network than the east of Surrey

The M25 sweeps through the north of the county for fast access to the national motorway network (in particular the M4, M3, M40, M1, M20, M26, M23 and M11, Heathrow and Gatwick ). Of course the M25 can become horribly conjested and is notorious for traffic jams caused by accidents and road works. The section between junction 9 and Heathrow (dual four to six lanes) is one of the busiest roads in Europe.

The M23 connects the M25 directly and quickly with Gatwick airport. The M3 cuts through the north west of the county with just three junctions in Surrey. It provides efficient access to Hampshire and the south-west of England (very popular at weekends) but its northern termination at Sunbury is often traffic-locked.

The A3 which runs out of London and south-west through the county towards Hampshire and feels like a motorway with its three lanes sweeping past towns. When it has free-flowing traffic, it is an extremely good, fast route to and from London, but it is very busy in peak hours and there can be hold-ups. The new tunnel at Hindhead (the longest road tunnel under land in the UK) has eased the flow of traffic on the A3 into Hampshire and to the south coast at Portsmouth.

The A31 connects Farnham and Guildford via an effective dual carriageway. The A30 running along the north east borderland of Surrey is generally a quick road. The Blackwater Valley Route (A331) in the far east of the county links Camberley and Frimley with Farnham and is often mistaken for a motorway.

Nearer the centre of the county the A24 south of Leatherhead is another good fast road which travels towards Sussex and the south coast. Emerging from greater London, the A217 south of Sutton is a dual or three lane carriageway as far as the M25.

With the exception of the above roads, many of the so-called A roads are single carriageways and are not particularly quick. In general, because of the density of the population and the high ratio of cars to people, most of the north of the county is prone to traffic congestion. In the south of the county the roads are emptier, but away from the major routes mentioned above they are slower and meandering; it can often take an unexpectedly long time to cover a relatively short distance, especially in the Surrey Hills. Many villages in the south do not have quick access to fast roads.

Rail Communications

CLICK ON MAP FOR ENLARGED IMAGE

The coming of the railway in the nineteenth century was not met with universal delight and consequently the locations of some railroutes and stations are idiosyncratic rather than logical. For example, since Surbiton, instead of the much bigger town of Kingston, gained the mainline station, the result is that today Surbiton, rather than Kingston, has the faster and more frequent train journey to London. If travel to London via train is an important criterion for house hunters, it is essential to check services and journey times, since sometimes locations further out can have faster train access to London than stations that are actually nearer the capital (e.g. trains from Chessington, part of greater London, take 38 minutes to Waterloo whereas a fast train from Woking, much further out to the south-west, can take only 28 minutes to Waterloo). Wimbledon, Surbiton, Guildford, Woking, Richmond and Staines are stations blessed with extremely frequent train services to London.

London terminus stations that can be accessed from Surrey - Waterloo, Victoria, London Bridge & Charing Cross. Many lines also stop at Vauxhall. Thameslink trains pass through the north-east fringes of Surrey (now part of greater London). Thus Redhill and East Croydon stations connect via Thameslink with London Bridge, Farringdon and Kings Cross. Sutton, Carshalton, Mitcham, St.Helier, Morden, South Merton and Wimbledon connect with Blackfriars, Farringdon and Kings Cross. Stations in the west of Surrey are linked to West London e.g. Hounslow.

Note that the Anglia Railways service on the map has been discontinued, the South Central line is now run by Southern and Thames Trains are now run by First Great Western.

In addition to the above railway map, Virgin Trains operates a limited service that connects Guildford with the Midlands and the North, as well as Portsmouth and Gatwick.

For future consideration, the projected London Crossrail 2, which is planned to connect south-west London with north-east London, could possibly be extended south of Wimbledon into Surrey. Public consultation on the route is taking place but potential stations that have been mentioned are Kingston, Surbiton, Motspur Park, Shepperton, Hampton Court, Epsom and Chertsey. Obviously, should this extended route become a reality, locations close to the Surrey stops would experience a bigincrease in desirability. But don't hold your breath, the first stage of London Crossrail (from east to west which doesn't include Surrey stations) is not due to open until 2018, so who knows when Crossrail 2 would be in operation, if ever?

For detailed information on timetables see the websites for South West Trains, Southern, First Great Western, and Virgin Trains, or UK Rail Information.

 

The London Underground -The towns of Richmond and Wimbledon are on the London Underground District Line, while Morden and South Wimbledon are on the Northern Line.

A tram service runs from Wimbledon through Croydon with many stations en route linking different parts of the large borough of Croydon.


Airports

Surrey is extremely well placed for access to international and national flights. London’s Heathrow airport sits just to the north-west of Surrey, while London’s second airport, Gatwick, is just to the south-east of the county. There are fast motorway communications to both airports.

What's that Noise?

It is often said that it is almost impossible to escape the distant (or not so distant) hum of traffic in Surrey. There is also aircraft noise to contend with, especially for people living under the flightpaths of Gatwick and Heathrow - both these major airports are adjacent to Surrey's boundary. The blackspots for aircraft noise are in the north-west and south-east of the county – places such as Staines and Richmond upon Thames in the north-west and Charlwood in the south-east. Heathrow is currently wanting to expand by building a third runway, which is provisionally planned to be north of the current runways. However, there is major opposition to this proposal. Previous Governments have decreed that there will be no new runway at Gatwick until after 2019 but the airport has now put forward a plan to build a second runway to the existing one and claim it could be open by 2025.

There are also small aerodromes at Redhill and Chobham used by light aircraft and helicopters. Nuisance levels from these are usually worse at the weekend. Blackbushe Airport, again used by light aircraft and helicopters, lies on the Surrey/Hampshire border at Camberley.

For home buyers parcticularly concerned about aircraft noise, Surreyhomesearch has access to detailed flightpath maps for both Heathrow and Gatwick which are available to clients. www.surreyhomesearch.com Also see www.heathrowairport.com/noise. .

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Property Types

If there was ever such a thing as a traditional Surrey house style it was perhaps best captured in Helen Allingham’s late 19th century paintings of rural cottages (above, click on image for enlargement). Though very romanticised, her houses were real ones; the paintings were the artist’s way of recording beautiful old buildings for posterity. Some of these picturesque timber-frame houses with their steeply-pitched, clay-tiled roofs can still be found in more rural, southern parts of Surrey though many are now unfortunately on busy main roads.

One of England’s most celebrated architects, Edwin Lutyens (1869 -1944) developed the Surrey vernacular style at the end of the nineteenth century and he built a number of stunning houses in Surrey, mostly south of Guildford, which are highly sought after and very expensive. Many of them had gardens designed by Gertrude Jekyll , England's most famous plantswoman, who lived at Munstead Wood near Godalming, in one of Lutyens' earliest houses.

The Lutyens' Surrey style – sweeping roofs and soaring chimneys, tile hanging, multiple gables, leaded lights, exposed timbering and handcrafted details – became hugely influential and was copied around the world. Other architects working in the first half of the twentieth century (for example Baillie Scott and Blair Imrie) also designed in the Surrey vernacular and these kinds of houses are fairly common in Surrey, especially in and around Guildford, Esher, Weybridge and West Byfleet.

This Surrey style became so popular, developers adopted it in the 1930s using some of its most basic elements for building houses en masse. The word "tudorbethan" was coined by detractors as a term of abuse to describe modern pastiches of the Surrey style. Surrey has an abundance of tudorbethan suburban houses, both detached and semi-detached, and while architectural purists may knock them, many home buyers still love them.

Surrey is not blessed with many genuine Georgian period houses (1714-1837) whether detached or terraced. However, most towns and villages have at least one good example of a detached Georgian house in a pleasing, if central, location. Epsom, Farnham, Richmond, Petersham, Guildford, Dorking, Chertsey and Reigate have a rather better selection of good Georgian properties than elsewhere. Because of their rarity, Georgian houses command a high premium but they are also often on main roads. Buyers must be prepared to be less fussy about location. Georgian houses tend to remain with the same owners for a long period and are often sold privately.

There is a slightly better supply of Victorian housing (1837 -1901) especially small terraced properties and late Victorian villas, the latter in a range of sizes including large rambling properties standing in several acres and neat little detached houses. Norman Shaw (1831 - 1912) was a leading Victorian architect who designed many houses in Surrey, particularly in and around Guildford, and his brick and tile-hanging style was much copied around the county, noticeably at Haslemere and Weybridge.

From the 1930s onwards (with a gap during the war years) new houses shot up in Surrey, mostly on smallish estates. The majority of Surrey's housing stock is from these more recent times and there is a huge supply of late twentieth century homes. Although there is hardly any virgin building land in the county, developers are still managing to find plots. Most new housing tends to be executive style homes (either individual or small estates), apartments or terraced housing. Indeed with recent Government guide-lines demanding higher density, developers are now concentrating on apartments and multi-storey "town" houses. Styles are mainly traditional, even pastiches, and there is very little adventurous or innovative housing being erected in Surrey.

Land prices in Surrey are very high and there is a growing tendency for developers to pull down older properties in prime locations and erect swish new homes that enjoy mature settings. Sometimes a number of new houses will be squeezed into the large plot of a demolished house, but increasingly individual houses are being torn down to be replaced by just one new property. The latest trend is for enormous monster houses, many of them still in the grandiose mock-Georgian style derisively known as "footballers' houses". Large redundant buildings (eg hospitals) are also being divided up and converted into modern homes.

Developers who specialize in the Surrey area include Octagon, Fairclough Homes, Bryant Homes, Charles Church, Barratt, Latchmere Properties, Fairview, Laing Homes, Bewley Homes, Kingsway, Beaumonde Homes, Crest Nicholson and Try Homes.

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Prices

Something very strange has happened to Surrey prices. The county has many desirable and highly priced areas, but it used to be a general rule that the further you went from London the markedly cheaper these desirable locations became. Thus there was a gap between prices in Esher and, a few miles further out, Cobham and an even larger gap between the prices in Esher and those in Guildford. This is still true but to a much lesser extent, the gap has diminished. So that nowadays housing in and around Guildford is not startlingly cheaper than that in the north of the county. (A fact that reflects the growth of Guildford as a very successful business centre in its own right. Highly paid local employers and employees have also upped the prices of property in the surrounding villages.) Indeed you can even sometimes now pay more for the same kind of property in a desirable location in the south of the county than in a less desirable location in north Surrey. (Guildford is more expensive than Croydon or Sutton in all categories of housing). Moreover, a number of major companies have relocated staff to new office premises built near the M25 and this has put pressure on the supply of local housing and pushed up prices. Generally, the east of the county and the area along its western boundary offer cheaper buying opportunities, but there are drawbacks to these areas which are the reasons for the lower prices.

Price falls - some myths laid to rest

Do not be misled into thinking that property prices in Surrey are immune from falls or even crashes. In the last two property slumps (1988-94 and 2007-9) prices fell as dramatically here as elsewhere, disproving the myth that the rich are somehow protected against economic downturns or hikes in interest rates. Instead, in the 1989/91 debacle it was obvious that much expensive Surrey property had been bought largely with borrowed money and many swanky homes in prestigious locations such as St George's Hill were repossessed by the banks. The last market collapse also likewise affected Surrey and property prices tumbled. A lot of the 2006/7 boom was fuelled by high-earning employees in the financial industry and the shake-out in the City had a negative effect on Surrey's house prices.

What’s the market doing now?

23th September 2016

August lived down to its low expectations. The month is traditionally a quiet one for the Surrey property market because so many people are away on holiday and this year the mood of uncertainty that prevailed after the Brexit vote meant that expectations for August were even lower than usual. Accordingly, very few properties went under offer and new instructions were seasonally small in number, but of course there were exceptions. (To see why some media reports state there has been little evidence of a post Brexit downturn, see below.)

Last month, it was hard to find one stand-out sector of the market that fared far better than the rest although four bedroom detached houses priced up to around £1m. in the best locations had a slight edge, as did three bedroom houses, again in the more desirable areas, priced between £600k. and around £800k.. Above £1.3m. the sales situation was dire although a very few multi-million-pound properties did find overseas buyers, thanks to the favourable exchange rate post Brexit. Luxury flats priced above £500k. struggled last month as did small houses at under £600k. and even flats at the bottom of the market were sometimes floundering. Much earlier in the year, any property that came onto the market at under £250k. would have had several buyers lining up before the ink was dry on the sales details. This was not the case last month.

New instructions trickled into estate agents' offices at a typical August rate and actually there did't seem to be a significant post Brexit effect pushing the numbers down even further. Consequently, with the small amount of sales agreed during the month, the supply of properties for sale in Surrey at the end of the month was relatively good.

Prices

In common with the two previous months, August saw a large number of price reductions in Surrey. These were across the board in all price sectors. The discounting was not huge but often came after earlier price reductions so the culminate effect was sometimes considerable, for example, a two bedroom house in Woking reduced by 21.7% from £315k. to £270k., a four bedroom flat in Weybridge reduced by 24.6% from £900k. to guide price of £750k., and at two extremes of the market, a one bedroom flat in Kingston reduced by 13.8% from £289,950 to £250k. and a plot of land in the environs of St. George's Hill reduced by 33.3% to a guide price of £1m..

Paradoxically, new instructions tended to carry optimistic valuations, especially for four bedroom houses priced below £1.3m. and three bedroom houses priced below £1m.. This has led to huge price inconsistency across the market.

The Future?

While the autumn market is usually a strong one in Surrey, this year we do not expect it to stage a significant rally after the summer slowdown. Post Brexit uncertainty will continue to be a negative factor. It is worthwhile remembering that Surrey as a whole voted to remain in the European Union (albeit by a small margin) and therefore much of its population will be more cautious about the future than residents in the counties that voted to leave. Those who are needing or really keen to buy are likely to wait until the new year to see how the both the economic situation and the state of the housing market are then. Already buyers are starting to realise that they may currently have the upper hand in a weak market and that prices are likely to be very negotiable.

It was very interesting to see that the latest Land Registry statistics recorded the lowest ever number of sales in Surrey for the month of May (the online published statistics go back to 1995, the June figures are not yet available). This is remarkable and so revealing about the state of the market. The actual figure for May 2016 was 1,158 sale completions compared with 1,614 in May 2015 and, for example, 2,608 in May 2009. There were many factors behind the huge drop in the number of sales, not least of which was the run-up to the Brexit vote, but possibly the biggest factor was the rush to beat the extra stamp duty on buy-to-let and second homes introduced in April, leading to purchases being brought forward and a huge spike in sales figures in March this year (2,270). As sales were so low in May, we cannot see that they can improve much in the final months of the year. Vendors will need to be very cautious with their pricing if they want to secure a buyer. Only the very best properties, very realistically priced, are likely to sell in the months ahead.

Note that this week the government has issued, via the Office of National Statistics, a statement that there has been, "little impact of the Brexit vote on the UK economy so far". The report includes reference to the housing market saying that statistics from the Land Registry reveal little negative effect so far. The latest Land Registry statistics are for July (though published in September) and since the Land Registry records completed sales these will mostly relate to sales agreed, and probably contracts exchanged, before the referendum vote. We will have to wait until October and even November for the Land Registry statistics to reflect in large measure the effect of Brexit, for figures relating to sales agreed post Brexit during the months of July and August. It is worrying and disappointing when the Government appears to interpret official statistics so misleadingly.

Similarly this week the Council for Mortgage Lenders has announced that mortgage lending in August was the highest figure for the month since 2007 and accompanies the figures with the statement that fears over the fallout from the Brexit vote on the housing market proved to be " wide of the mark". However, the figures include remortgaging (the Bank of England cut interest rates to a new low of 0.25% in early August) and any totally new mortgages recorded in August are for mortgage advances (i.e. when the money is handed over), not mortgages agreed, so many will relate to sales agreed prior to Brexit (with people moving and completing in the August summer holiday period). Infuriatingly, the BBC headlined the "highest figure since 2007" as data supporting no post Brexit fallout, without informative comment or analysis. Oh dear, the housing market is still all smoke and mirrors.

As always, buyers should exert caution in assessing the value of a property. A house or flat in only worth what someone is willing to pay for it at a certain time and if funding is available and affordable.

CLICK HERE FOR PAST MARKET REPORT ARCHIVE

 

Average property prices in Surrey

UK House Price Index for July 2016 (latest monthly figures)

Detached
£789,758

Semi-detached
£456,888

Terraced
£370,290

Flat
£
263,422

Average price (all types of property) £443,131


Change on previous month: plus 1.5%
(These figures record completed sales. Since there is often a time lag of several months between an agreed sale and the actual legal completion of the sale, the statistics reflect the state of the house-buying market some months before they are published.)

The statistics above have been published by the new UK House Price Index which replaces the the former Land Registry Index which we used to record and analyse here every month. This new official government index combines data from both the Office of National Statistics and the Land Registry. It includes statistics from England, Scotland, Wales and Northen Ireland (the old index just covered England and Wales) and new methodology. The new average figures as shown above differ markedly from the final ones we posted from the old Land Registry Index which were for March. For example, the average for all types of property in March was £399,597 but as recorded for the first time under the new system (which was in May) the average for all types of property was £430, 330. While prices may have risen between March and May, they did not soar by something around 7%. Thus comparisons between the statistics recorded by the new index and those of the old index prior to May are meaningless. The fact that there is such a big discrepancy between the average figures produced by new and old official indices does undermine their credibility and authority.

The 1.5% increase in average price for July is an unusually large rise. Some of the rise can be explained by the fact that July is a popular month for completing sales (i.e. buyers choosing to move during the holiday period) and so purchases agreed much earlier in the year show up as completed sales in the July figures and the prices may reflect a more buoyant spring market rather than the state of the market in the summer. Another contributing factor could be a spike in sales of multi-million-pound sales to foreigners following the sudden fall in the value of the pound after the Brexit vote making UK property cheaper for many overseas buyers. Certainly in the immediate aftermath of the vote, some mega sales were suddenly achieved and processed speedily and thus they would have shown up in July's statistics for completions. These sales would have distorted the average figure and indeed, according to the Land Registry statistics, the average price of detached houses jumped by 1.97% in July.

The comparative monthly performance figure for the rest of the UK in July was much lower than Surrey's at plus 0.4% while London's figure was also lower than Surrey's at plus 1.0%.

The average property price for all the UK in July was £216,750, while the average price for London was £484,716. (it had been £534,705 in May). Note that Surrey's average price is now perilously close to that of London! The statistics record that the average price of all property for July in the south-east region was £313,315, far below the average price of £443,131 for Surrey, demonstrating the exceptionally high cost of Surrey property within the south-east region.

On an annual basis (end of July 2015 to end of July 2016) the average price of property in Surrey recorded an increase of 12.23%. The comparative annual performance figure for all properties in the UK between July 2015 and July 2016 was lower at plus 8.3%. The annual figure for London was marginally better than Surrey's at plus 12.3%. (Note these annual figures are curious as the new index only came into existence earlier this year.)

The total number of sales completed during July is not yet available. The most recent month for which the number of completed sales has been published by the new index is May. The number of completed sales in Surrey during May 2016 was 1,158 which was a huge drop from the 1,614 sales in May 2015. (Comparisons of the number of sales in the county over the years is possible because these statistics are not affected by the new methodology in the new index). The huge fall in sales is easily accounted for by the rush in March to beat the extra stamp duty on buy-to-let and second homes that was introduced in April. Indeed, sales this March at 2,270 were easily the highest ever recorded for the month (the Land Registry online published figures go back to 1995). They were even higher than in the boom years of 2006 and 2007. By contrast, this year the number of sales in May at 1,158 was the lowest ever recorded for the month, even lower than during the property crash in 2009 when sales fell to 1,179 in May (the previous lowest figure recorded for the month). Note that in 2007, during the property boom, sales in May were 2,608, more than double this year's figure for the month.

Surrey Houses used to use the Land Registry statistics as a measure of the property market as we considered that these offered the most accurate account of property sales. The widely publicised mortgage lenders' indices are based on mortgage offers (which may not proceed to actual sales - indeed around a quarter do not), include remortgages (which are not sales), do not include properties bought without a mortgage (traditionally about a fifth of all sales, but more in the current climate), are seasonally adjusted and are also weighted for property type. The fact that the two average price indices published by the Halifax and the Nationwide often disagree markedly undermines their reliability. Halifax has around 10% of the market, Nationwide has a smaller share. The Land Registry figures, on the other hand, record almost all property sales.

Regrettably, the new UK House Price Index is still " seasonally-adjusted", so it does not necessarily reflect normal seasonal changes in the property market and is also "mix-adjusted" to account for the tendency of certain types of properties to sell better depending on the time of year. Surely it would be better not to "seasonally adjust" or "mix-adjust" the statistics? Most people can understand that market activity naturally varies over the year and is traditionally stronger in the spring and weaker in the winter, but the Index masks some of these fluctuations. On the other hand, in recent years, buying activity has not always kept to the traditional patterns (e.g. see the huge spike in sales this March due to tax changes, normally the spike in spring completions does not occur until a few months later) so how accurate or useful is "seasonal-adjustment" or "mix-adjustment"? Surely it could publish two sets of statistics, one set that is "seasonally-adjusted" amd "mix-adjusted" and one set that isn't? It would be better to inform the public of seasonal changes that affect the property market, something that is useful for buyers and sellers to know anyway, rather than tampering with the figures in order to try to present an streamlined overview which is not strictly accurate and could be seen as misleading..

Note that according to the Land Registry's website, the online publication of the new UK House Price Index is in experimental mode until the end of 2016.

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