HOUSE prices in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole dropped below the regional average in May, according to the latest figures.

Property prices in the conurbation decreased by 1.2 per cent – more than the average for the South West – in May. But the drop does not reverse the longer-term trend, which has seen property prices in the area achieve 7.7 per cent annual growth.

The average Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole house price in May was £299,301, Land Registry figures show – a 1.2 per cent decrease on April.

Over the month, the picture was worse than that across the South West, where prices decreased 0.6 per cent, and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole underperformed compared with the 0.9 per cent rise for the UK as a whole.

Over the past year, the average sale price of property in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole rose by £21,000 – putting the area 22nd among the South West’s 32 local authorities for annual growth.

The best annual growth in the region was in West Devon, where property prices increased on average by 25.1 per cent, to £306,000. At the other end of the scale, properties in Stroud lost 4.2 per cent of their value, giving an average price of £278,000.

Owners of detached houses fared worst in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole in May – they dropped 1.5 per cent in price, to £493,264 on average. But over the last year, prices rose by 8.5 per cent.

First-time buyers in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole spent an average of £232,000 on their property – £16,000 more than a year ago, and £27,000 more than in May 2016.

By comparison, former owner-occupiers paid £339,000 on average in May – 46.3 per cent more than first-time buyers.

Sean Gibson (pictured), head of residential sales at Savills in Canford Cliffs, said: “While demand remains strong, it is important to reiterate that realistic pricing from the offset is important to secure a sale, which is possibly a factor behind the reported decrease in house prices across BCP in May.

"The market remains price sensitive and this is perhaps even more important to bear in mind with the first stamp duty deadline behind us, particularly if, as we expect, stock constraints begin to ease over coming months.”