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House prices fall 3% in April

Written by: Owain Thomas
House prices grew by 2.2% in the three months to April down from 2.7% over the same period last year, according to the Halifax House Price Index.

However, values fell by 3.1% in April from March and were 0.1% lower between February and April compared to November to January.

According to the index, the average house price sat at £220,962 in April, down from £228,102 in March, but up slightly from £220,401 in April last year.

Halifax managing director, Russell Galley, noted that both the quarterly and annual rates have fallen since reaching a peak last autumn, with these measures providing a more stable indication of the underlying trend than the monthly change.

“Housing demand has softened in the early months of 2018, with both mortgage approvals and completed home sales edging down,” he said.

“Housing supply – as measured by the stock of homes for sale and new instructions – is also still very low. However, the UK labour market is performing strongly with unemployment continuing to fall and wage growth finally picking up.

“These factors should help to ease pressure on household finances and as a result we expect annual price growth will remain in our forecast range of 0-3% this year.”

Sets the tone for the year

Former Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors residential chairman Jeremy Leaf voiced his disappointment with the figures.

“We are entering what is supposed to be the busy spring buying season, which tends to set the tone for the rest of the year,” he said.

“Now that interest rates are unlikely to go up this month, hopefully there will be more interest, and particularly from first-time buyers, to take advantage of competitive mortgage deals and realistic prices,” he added.

Octane Capital CEO Jonathan Samuels said that while this may have just been the hottest early May Bank Holiday weekend on record, the forecast for the UK property market in 2018 was tepid at best.

“The property market is a mirror of the economy, lacking any real momentum and simply idling along,” he said.

“While inflation has fallen and wages have been edging up, this will take time to filter through so it’s no surprise transaction levels remain low.

“As ever, low stock levels and continued cheap borrowing rates are acting as a glass floor under prices,” he added.

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