THE upcoming abolition of the Severn Bridge tolls has already increased the commuter belt from Bristol, causing house prices in Monmouthshire to grow faster than anywhere else in Wales.

According to the Welsh House Price Index, prices in the county rose by 11.9 per cent last year, compared to 11.1 per cent in Newport and 8.1 per cent in Torfaen.

The index also showed that house prices in Newport rose by 5.9 per cent in the three months (July to September) with the average price now at £199,039.

The figures have been released this week from Principality Building Society’s Wales House Price Index for Q3 2018, which shows the rise and fall of house prices in each of the 22 local authorities in Wales.

The authors of the index noted that no bridge tolls will save daily commuters between Wales and Bristol up to £1,400 per year. The average house price in Bristol is £310,000, with many commuters said to be crossing the bridge to take advantage of lower house prices.

The index also noted that the average house price across the whole of Wales in September 2018 reached a new peak at £184,772, which is £325 higher than the previous peak seen in March 2018.

Four other areas, including Newport, achieved new record average prices in September 2018 - the Vale of Glamorgan (£260,448), Powys (£217,265), Caerphilly (£148,040) and Rhondda Cynon Taf (£136,189).

Tom Denman, Chief Financial Officer at Principality Building Society said: “We can see that there has been some fluctuation in the market as prices artificially dipped after the introduction of the land transaction tax but have made a recovery this quarter. However, overall sales volumes are 4% lower than a year earlier which reflects the sense of caution in the market.

“We know that numbers of first-time buyers is down slightly and it would seem the uncertainty around Brexit negotiations means owners are deciding to stay put rather than move. The buy-to-let market has also declined due to landlords being put off by tax disincentives. The picture of the market is consistent with the last couple of years and it would appear that this trend is set to continue in the short term.”

Ten years on from the financial crash of 2008 Newport is the third highest growth area in real terms in Wales at 23.9 per cent, while Monmouthshire has risen 19.7 per cent.