House prices increased by 2.6% in the year to April 2013, according to new figures released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS), taking the average price of a home in the UK to £238,000.
The data, which also showed a monthly increase of 0.4% during the month, points to continuing improvement in the housing market. But some housing experts said the figures paint a worrying picture for first-tine buyers.
Across the UK, annual growth of 2.8% was experienced in England and 6.2% in Wales, but these gains were offset by declines of 1.2% in Scotland and 0.8% in Northern Ireland.
The ONS said house price growth remains stable across most of the UK, although prices in London are increasing faster than the UK average.
London put on 6% in the year to April, taking the average price of a home to £414,000 – 18% above the average London price at the pre-recession peak in January 2008.
In April 2013 the average price paid for a home by first-time buyers was 4.7% higher than April 2012, outstripping the overall increase in house prices of 2.6%.
It means that during April 2013, first-time buyers paid an average of £179,000 for their first home, or £8,400 more than they did in April 2012. At £179,000, first-time buyers would need to raise 7.7 times the average annual salary in order to afford a home.
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Duncan Stott of first-time buyer pressure group PricedOut said: "Today's inflation-busting price increases mean first-time buyers now have an even greater mountain to climb to realise their dreams of owning their own home. It is especially distressing to see first-time buyer prices increase by so much, suggesting that it is particularly the lower end of the housing market that is over-heating."