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House prices strengthened in March to post their biggest monthly gain since August, according to Halifax, the UK’s biggest mortgage lender.
The average price of a UK home rose 1.5% in March to hit £227,871, the
highest recorded price. Prices in the three months to March were 2.7%
higher than a year earlier, up from the 1.8% annual growth recorded in
The strong house price growth came as a surprise after months of
lacklustre growth and declines in December and January reported by
Halifax, part of Lloyds Banking Group. Rival lender Nationwide reported a 0.2% decline for March to £211,625, the second monthly fall in a row.
However, Halifax warned that monthly changes could be volatile. Prices
fell 0.1% between January and March compared with the previous three
months, the second consecutive quarterly decline.
Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said: “The
jump in Halifax’s measure of house prices in March just looks like
volatility, rather than the start of a strong upward trend. Halifax’s
index is prone to large swings; the standard deviation of month-to-month
growth since 2010 has been twice as high as for Nationwide’s measure.”
Russell Galley, managing director at Halifax, said: “Activity levels,
like house price growth, have softened compared with a year ago.
Mortgage approvals are down compared to 12 months ago, whilst home sales
have remained flat in the early months of the year. This lack of
direction in the housing market is in stark contrast to the continuing
strength of the UK jobs market.”
He said low unemployment, low mortgage rates and the ongoing shortage of
properties for sale would underpin price growth in coming months.
Halifax is predicting annual price growth to remain close to 3%.
Mortgages in Britain have reached their most affordable level in a
decade, according to new research from Halifax. Typical mortgage
payments accounted for less than a third (29%) of homeowners’ disposable
income in the fourth quarter of 2017, compared with almost half (48%)
The forecast group EY Item Club believes 2018 will be a difficult year
for the housing market, predicting that house price gains will be
limited to a modest 2%. It said the abolition of stamp duty for
first-time buyers of properties costing up to £300,000 (and on the first
£300,000 for homes costing up to £500,000) should provide some support
to the market in the next few months.
Source: The Guardian
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