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House prices jump in Telford as ‘Brexit leads to lack of supply’

House prices have jumped in Telford, and an industry expert has said the rises are partly due to the Brexit referendum.

Figures for April show that Telford & Wrekin has seen average house prices rise by 6.4 per cent on the previous year, to £170,358 – well above the UK average increase of 1.4 per cent.

Shropshire prices matched the national increase at 1.4 per cent, rising to £210,194. Powys’ has also seen a significant hike, with a 5.1 per cent rise to an average of £189,043.

Jo Culley, managing director at DB Roberts, which has offices across the region, including at Shrewsbury, Shifnal, and Telford, said: “Certainly in the last 12 months there has been a lack of general supply of property onto the market. If you have more buyers than sellers then it forces prices up.

“That is probably the simple reason for any price increase the market might have seen.”

Reluctant

Mrs Culley said that there had been a reduction in the number of people looking to sell their homes in the wake of the EU referendum.

She said: “I think we have been a little reluctant, in a Brexit landscape, to move for the sake of moving.

“Most of the people instructing us to sell since Brexit have been doing so because they have to move, not because they want to.”

Tony Morris-Eyton, head of office for Savills in the West Midlands, said he believed part of the increase was down to natural correction in the market.

He said: “House values in the South rose significantly greater than our part of the world and part of this is a catching up process. The differential between us and particularly the South is beginning to narrow.”

In the West Midlands the rise was ahead of the national average at 2.2 per cent with the average house price in the region reaching £195,498.

The average UK house price was £229,000 in April, according to the figures released jointly by the Office for National Statistics, Land Registry and other bodies.

Nationally property values increased by 0.7 per cent month on month.

Strengthened

The weakest annual growth was in London, where prices fell by 1.2 per cent over the year. In the South East, prices fell by 0.8 per cent.

House prices increased annually by 1.1 per cent in England, 1.6 per cent in Scotland and 3.5 per cent in Northern Ireland.

In England, the East Midlands saw the strongest annual house price growth in April, with a 2.9 per cent increase.

ONS head of inflation Mike Hardie said: “Annual house price growth remained subdued but was strong in Wales, which showed a pronounced increase on the month.

“In London, house prices continued to fall over the year but rental price growth there strengthened.”

Challenging

Jamie Durham, an economist at PwC, said: “The house price growth story is split between the South East and the rest of the country… While prices are falling in the South East, prices elsewhere are growing.”

Howard Archer, chief economic adviser at the EY Item Club, said: “The ONS data do little to change the overall impression that the housing market is still finding life challenging as buyer caution amid still relatively challenging conditions is being reinforced by Brexit, political and economic uncertainties – although there are significant variations across regions with the overall picture being dragged down by the weakness in London and the South East.”

Jonathan Harris, director of mortgage broker Anderson Harris, said: “There is still a significant premium to pay to buy property in London and the South East, with first-time buyers increasingly having to call upon the ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ for help with the deposit.”

Gareth Lewis, commercial director of property lender MT Finance, said: “House price growth is picking up outside of London and the South East, which is encouraging as it creates more balance to the country as a whole, although London prices still remain at a premium.

“Hotspots for investors include Middlesbrough, Nottingham, Newcastle and university areas, where the transactional flow has greatly increased as investors chase yield.

“Values are therefore creeping up in response to greater demand for property in those areas.”

By Dominic Robertson

Source: Shropshire Star

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Removing Brexit uncertainty won’t resolve housing market issues

Released today, the BSA’s quarterly Property Tracker survey reveals that house prices are of greater importance than Brexit when it comes to housing market sentiment.

Respondents who disagreed that ‘now is a good time to buy’ were asked what would change their mind: over a third (34%) said a correction in house prices.

Comparatively, 27% said ‘the UK reaching an agreement with the EU’ would make them more positive, and just 11% said a ‘no deal’ scenario would make them more positive.

Sentiment towards the housing market has been negative for over two-years, but improved in June.

When asked ‘is now a good time to buy a property in the UK’, those who disagree has outnumbered those who agree in every quarter since June 2017.

Today’s results show that 23% agreed that now is a good time to buy, 28% disagreed. This is slightly less negative than in March when a third (33%) disagreed.

Almost a third (31%) of people expect house prices to increase in the next year. Less than a quarter (24%) think prices will fall. This could be due to fewer properties coming onto the market following the EU referendum, adding support to prices.

Higher property prices will make saving for a deposit even more difficult for aspiring first-time buyers. ‘Raising a deposit’ has been the single biggest barrier to home ownership for nearly a decade. In today’s results 64% of people said raising a deposit was the biggest barrier.

Paul Broadhead, Head of Mortgages and Housing Policy at the BSA comments:

“It’s no surprise that the UK views the housing market in a negative light. We are in the midst of a housing crisis and the political landscape is in undoubtable turmoil. Naturally, these combined forces are unsettling homeowners and making them less likely to want to move. Fewer homes on the market means intensified competition, which consequentially push house prices up. Unfortunately, this has a knock-on effect on first-time buyers, who are already struggling to pull together a deposit.

“This cocktail of existing homeowners staying put, and would-be first-time buyers failing to get on the ladder at all, means we risk stagnating the housing market further. To aid this, financial service providers could help educate people of the benefits of saving little and often.

“Consumers are encouraged to take advantage of Government initiatives such as the Help to Buy ISA and the Lifetime ISA, which are designed to maximise savings for a house deposit. The former is closing to new accounts at the end of November.”

Source: Politics Home

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The property market set for a bounceback in the summer

The property market is on track for an upturn in house sale prices this summer, with a 9% surge in average prices in the three months between May and August, reallymoving has predicted in its House Price Forecast.

As homebuyers register for quotes for homemove services on the site typically 12 weeks before their purchase completes, providing data on the purchase price agreed, reallymoving said it can provide an accurate three-month property price forecast before those deals complete three months later.

Rob Houghton, chief executive of reallymoving, said: “Prices agreed this spring will show in Land Registry data in the summer, yet our customers registering for home move services as soon as their deal is agreed are giving us unique insight into what lies ahead for the housing market.

“Our forecasts suggest that sellers are growing tired of the ‘wait and see’ approach and once the Brexit deadline passed at the end of March, with no further clarification, sellers decided to press ahead with their move.

“This new buyer demand and a continued shortage of quality housing stock is on course to drive strong price growth between May and August, with particular surges in regions benefiting from strong demand such as the North East and the South West, where affordability remains attractive and wages are rising.

“Annually, average UK prices have been falling since the start of the year but in June we can expect prices to see a return to positive growth with a rise of 1% year-on-year, followed by 0% change in July.

“This suggests that a strong market performance over the spring will see prices make up the value lost in the first part of 2019 and are set to recover to 2018 levels this summer.

“There is considerable pent up demand in the market following three years of uncertainty and with many doubting that Brexit will be resolved any time soon, people are increasingly making the decision to move on regardless.”

Historically, reallymoving’s data has closely tracked the Land Registry’s Price Paid data, published retrospectively.

Average UK property prices fell steadily between January and April 2019 as Brexit uncertainty gripped the market, held-back consumer confidence and curtailed transaction levels.

But despite a slow start, the spring market has shown a good deal of resilience, with prices agreed during the past few weeks forecast to deliver a surge in average values of 6% between May and June 2019, followed by a further 3% increase in August.

The market is following a similar pattern to spring/summer 2018, when the Land Registry recorded price rises of 4.4% between May and August 2018.

But this year, the report said greater pent up demand and growing impatience with the Brexit process has resulted in a more pronounced increase in house prices during the summer period.

Annually, prices have been consistently lower than the previous year between January and May 2019. A notable annual drop of 6% in value in May showed this year the spring market has accelerated later than in 2018, as the traditionally busy spring sales window was delayed by Brexit uncertainty.

However, an increase in market activity later in the spring means annual price changes are forecast to stabilise, with 1% growth expected in June, followed by no change in July and -1% in August 2019.

Of the 12 regions of the UK analysed, 11 are forecast to see prices rise during the three months to August, with the strongest gains in the North East (20%), the East of England and the South West (12%).

The capital is no exception and although growth is more subdued than in other parts of the country, London is still forecast to see prices rise by 3% over the summer period.

Meanwhile, Scotland is the only region of the UK expected to see property price falls, with a 3% drop anticipated between May and August.

In the South West prices have been fairly flat since the start of the year but are on course for a 8% increase in June, followed by a further 4% rise in August, as a burst in market activity in the spring translates to summer completions.

By Michael Lloyd

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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House Prices Recover in April

House prices in the UK grew 1.1% in April after a fall in March, according to the latest figures from Halifax.

The Halifax house price index revealed in March that house prices fell 1.3% over the month. However, prices rebounded in April with a 1.1% monthly rise, pointing to the volatility in the country’s housing market. House prices had been expected to fall by 1.6% over the month. The average price of a home in the UK now stands at £236,619, according to the country’s largest mortgage lender.

Average property prices were also up compared to last year. In the three months to March 2019, UK house prices grew sharply by 5% compared to last year, while a growth of only 4.5% was expected. This annual growth rate was almost double that seen in the previous month, when house prices grew 2.6% year-on-year in the three months to March. It is also higher than the average annual house price growth seen over the last decade. For the last ten years, the average price of a home in the UK has risen by £81,956, or an average of 4.3% each year.

However, surveys from other lenders show differing results than those from Halifax. According to the Nationwide Building Society, for example, annual house price growth in the UK has been below 1% for the last five months in a row.

“The blistering volatility of this index has returned as the Halifax house price weather vane spins itself into a frenzy once more,” said Lucy Pendleton, founder and director of estate agents James Pendleton. “The index has already come under scrutiny this year after months of erratic monthly growth figures. These can be more sprightly than the smoothed annual and quarterly numbers, but even so, they’ve been turning heads with the extremes with which they have been moving.

“One explanation for ricocheting growth figures like this is persistently low stock levels. In sought after areas, this can lead to demand being supercharged one minute and gone the next, with price rises coming in waves as brief competitions for limited numbers of homes come and go.”

Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said: “Less volatile measures point a far more subdued picture. For instance, Rightmove’s measure of online asking prices fell by 0.1% year-over-year in April, while Nationwide’s measure rose by a mere 0.9%. That said, we doubt that house price growth at the national level is about to turn negative for a sustained period.

“Mortgage rates have held steady for low LTV loans and have fallen steadily over the last year for high LTV products, offsetting some of the impact of Brexit uncertainty on high demand. In addition, maximum mortgage terms have continued to lengthen, pushing down monthly repayments and thereby making home ownership initially appear more attractive.

“Meanwhile, year-over-year growth in households’ real incomes remains on track to pick-up this year to about 2.5%, from 2.2% in 2018, thanks to lower inflation and more supportive fiscal policy. Accordingly, we still think that year-over-year growth in the official measure of house prices will pick up to around 1.5% by the end of 2019, from 0.6% in February.”

Source: Money Expert

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UK housing market: Limited supply holds back spring bounce

House prices in the UK have seen a noticeable slowdown over the last two years, and despite Brexit being kicked down the road to October, things haven’t perked up much for the property market. Brexit uncertainty, coupled with a lack of available stock, continue to make people feel nervous about buying and selling their homes and there seems to be little sense of a turnaround anytime soon.

According to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) sentiment survey, the balance between the proportion of surveyors seeing house prices rise to those seeing a fall in April has remained unchanged at -23%. This is in line with recently released government numbers which suggest average prices in the UK grew by a marginal 0.6% in February compared to a year earlier – the smallest rise since September 2012.

Despite all the doom and gloom, it’s worth noting that price expectations for UK houses over the next twelve months are modestly positive

London and the South East appear to be the weakest link where things appear to be particularly troubling, as prices in London alone fell by 3.8% year-on-year. Brexit uncertainty, coupled with changes to stamp duty and tax treatment of rental income, has hit the capital harder than the rest of the country. Property valuations in London are typically much higher and rental yields lower than in other UK regions.

But there is also a clear divergence in the number of properties on the market. In London, estate agents are reporting fairly average levels of properties on their books, resulting in very poor sales-to-stock ratios, and thereby putting further pressure on prices. Elsewhere in the country, the stock is much more limited and in many cases, well below average. The RICS survey suggests fewer properties are coming to the market too, as sellers continue to withhold stock thereby limiting choice for potential buyers. A net balance of 35% of surveyors has seen a fall in instructions during April – the poorest reading since June 2016.

But despite all the doom and gloom, it’s worth noting that price expectations for the next twelve months are modestly positive. Scotland and Northern Ireland have already been bucking the trend where prices continue to rise.

What’s going on in the lettings market?

As affordability bites, first-time buyers continue to postpone their purchases to save for a larger deposit, which increases the size of the rental sector.

The survey suggests the upcoming letting fees ban, which prevents landlords from charging tenants for credit checks and references and proposed plans to get rid of section 21, which allows them to evict tenants at short notice, could potentially make some landlords leave the market altogether. These changes come on top of the recent stamp duty changes which have seen buy-to-let investors facing an extra 3% charge, prompting another sharp fall in landlord instructions.

However, in the long-term, these changes need not necessarily be viewed negatively, as a larger rental market may offset tax distortions that currently discourage renting in the UK.

What does all of this mean for the economy?

Given how important consumer confidence is for the housing market, the temporary dip in Brexit noise, rising wage growth story and a strong jobs market should all, in theory, be positive factors, at least in the near-term. However, the latest Bank of England credit conditions survey suggests that demand for secured lending for house purchases is expected to decrease further in 2Q, suggesting the tide in the property market is not likely to change rapidly.

Still, we don’t expect the property market to feature too heavily in the Bank of England’s future decision on interest rates. Over half of mortgage holders are on a fixed-rate product, compared to around 30% back in 2012.

This means that consumers are generally less exposed to the impact of gradual rate rises and the outlook for interest rates will continue to hinge on the outlook for investment, which we expect to remain pressured by ongoing uncertainty. We currently don’t expect a rate hike this year, although having said that, recent comments from Governor Mark Carney suggest a November move shouldn’t be ruled out if Article 50 is extended again.

By James Smith

Source: Think Ing

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UK house prices: Experts warn of ‘volatile’ UK housing market after sharp April growth

Experts today warned that volatility is affecting the UK housing market as Halifax recorded a sharp annual jump in house prices in April.

UK homes are now worth an average £236,619 following the stark five per cent rise for the three months to April, compared to the same period in 2018, Halifax’s house price index revealed.

House prices also climbed 4.2 per cent in the latest quarter compared to the previous three months, while April saw a 1.1 per cent rise compared to March.

London helped push up April’s house price growth after a higher volume of London sales and pricier new build properties.

However, Halifax warned demand and supply also “remained subdued”.

Russell Galley, managing director of Halifax, said: “The index has seen a weaker pace of growth over the last three years, which is consistent with the easing of transactions volumes and housing market activity reflected in Rics, Bank of England and HMRC figures.”

UK house price volatility

Howard Archer, chief economic adviser to the EY Item Club, warned that the Halifax index has been “particularly volatile” in recent months and called the five per cent growth figure “very much an outlier”.

It compares to Nationwide’s weak 0.9 per cent annual growth estimate and the Land Registry’s even worse estimate of 0.6 per cent growth.

“There are overall signs that house prices may have picked up slightly from the lows at the start of the year, which may well be the consequence of recent improved consumer purchasing power and robust employment growth,” Archer admitted.

“Nevertheless, conditions still look pretty challenging for the housing market.”

He pointed to steep house prices, and London house prices and the south east acting as a brake on the wider market.

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former Rics residential chairman, said the figures signal “a spring bounce but not as great as we might have expected”.

“The market is quite volatile, bearing in mind the fall in prices last month,” he added. “The price increases recorded are probably more to do with shortages of stock and lower transactions than sustainable market strength.”

Brian Murphy, head of lending for Mortgage Advice Bureau, said the latest data “proves yet again how erratic any monthly changes to average property prices can be”.

“The year on year growth figures in April appear more consistent with the picture from the previous month, although it’s likely that this is being supported by the ongoing lack of properties for sale in many parts of the UK,” he said.

“With the usual spring market perhaps not quite as bouncy as usual, we’re seeing continued lender competition as mortgage rates remain at or close to record lows.”

Sam Mitchell, chief executive of online estate agents Housesimple, said: “This bumpy ride is symptomatic of a property market that continues to be held back by low stock levels and ongoing uncertainty around Brexit which is making buyers hesitant to commit.”

Is UK housing market recovery really on?

Halifax faced criticism when it said UK house prices grew 5.9 per cent in February, but

Jonathan Hopper, managing director of Garrington Property Finders, said the latest annual rise suggests February’s data “was no blip, but the start of a fightback”.

“April was that rarest of beasts – a month in which Brexit uncertainty eased substantially. While this backdrop explains some of the market’s ‘relaxation rally’, it’s worth noting that it also released some pent-up buyer demand,” he said.

“The question now is whether a return to Brexit deadlock will put the cork back in the bottle, or whether the market has gathered enough momentum to continue to flow freely.”

Sam Mitchell, chief executive of online estate agents Housesimple, said: “This bumpy ride is symptomatic of a property market that continues to be held back by low stock levels and ongoing uncertainty around Brexit which is making buyers hesitant to commit.”

Housesimple’s Mitchell added that the extended Halloween Brexit deadline could benefit the housing market.

“We could well see a late spring bounce, as sellers and buyers take advantage of this window of opportunity while there is less political turmoil swirling around, to progress a sale or purchase,” he said.

However, while EY’s Archer admitted avoiding an imminent no-deal Brexit in March may provide a “modest boost” to house prices, the new delay will just fuel market hesitancy.

“Prolonged uncertainty will weigh down on the economy and hamper housing market activity. Consequently, we suspect house prices will rise only one per cent over the year,” he predicted.

By Joe Curtis

Source: City AM

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UK housing market shows scant sign of recovery in April – RICS

UK housing market showed little sign of recovery in April as properties put up for sale fell the fastest rate since 2016, according to a survey on Thursday that added to downbeat signals from the housing market ahead of Brexit.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ (RICS) gauge of house prices held at -23 in April, still close to February’s level of -27, the weakest in almost eight years.

While official data show house prices have been rising across the country as a whole, prices in London have fallen, hit by unaffordable prices for many buyers, tax changes affecting rental properties and Brexit uncertainty which has weighed heavily on the capital.

“Although there are signs of greater realism on pricing from vendors, there is little conviction in the feedback from respondents to the survey that activity in the housing market will pick-up anytime soon,” RICS chief economist Simon Rubinsohn said.

Bank of England data last week showed British lenders approved the fewest mortgages since December 2017 in March, and that consumer borrowing slowed sharply in the run-up to the original Brexit deadline of March 29.

“Significantly, the key RICS buyer enquiries indicator remains subdued and sales expectations looking a year out are only modestly positive,” Rubinsohn said.

Reporting by Andy Bruce

Source: UK Reuters

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Bank of England downgrades its forecasts for housing market

The Bank of England has downgraded its forecasts for both mortgage lending and the housing market. It now expects less lending for house purchase, and house price falls rather than rises.

It now says that there are likely to be average of 60,000 mortgage approvals for house purchase each month between the second and fourth quarters this year. In February, it expected a monthly average  of 65,000.

The Bank has also revised down its expectations for house prices. It had expected growth of 0.25% per quarter. It now expects that house prices are likely to fall by 1.25% in the year to Q4.

It released its latest report after gathering views from estate agents.

It said: “Contacts of the Bank’s agents have reported that in some regions, such as southern England, an excess of supply of housing has led to a widening gap between asking and offered prices.”

The report also notes that the housing market has been weak since the referendum and that Brexit-related uncertainties have weighed on house prices, alongside “many other factors”.

It says that Brexit uncertainty is particularly important for “large, hard-to-reverse spending such as on housing than it is for day-to-day expenditure”.

It says some households have delayed buying or selling homes, while affordability constrains have had a likely effect.

It also says that changes to the buy-to-let market, including the surcharge in Stamp Duty and lower mortgage interest relief, have reduced demand.

The Bank released its latest inflation report as it decided to keep base rate at 0.75%.

By ROSALIND RENSHAW

Source: Property Industry Eye

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UK property: why house prices are so high

House prices across the UK have risen substantially over the past quarter-century. In some parts of the country it is now a real struggle for first-time buyers to step onto the property ladder.

UK house prices grew faster on average over the 40 years from 1971 to 2011 than any other OECD country. But prices really took off in the mid-1990s.

Land Registry data shows that the average UK house price in January 1995 was £55,437, a similar level to the beginning of the 1990s.

By March 2019, the average price was £223,610, a 303% increase over that period.

To give a sense of just how large that number is relative to the cost of living, if the average house price in 1995 had risen by the rate of inflation each year, it would only be around £105,000 today.

So why exactly have things gotten so out of control? Well, there are two parts to the housing market story: supply and demand.

Easy mortgages and booming demand
Let’s start with demand. Over the past few decades, demand for house purchases was supported by a booming economy and easy access to mortgages.

People had well-paying jobs and, up until the financial crash in 2008, banks were very keen to approve mortgages to both homebuyers and buy-to-let investors — too eager, in fact, which contributed to the economic crisis.

The number of mortgage approvals for house purchases peaked in December 2003 at 132,737. Some buyers were able to secure 100% mortgages at the time and borrowed debt that was a substantial multiple of their income, much higher than the four or five times available today.

Irresponsible lending to both homebuyers and buy-to-let investors fuelled a demand boom in the housing market.

Even today, in the aftermath of the crisis, mortgage approvals still hit 64,337 in February 2019, despite affordability issues for young house hunters. While the number is well down from the peak, it’s still buoyant.

Demand is currently supported by ultra-low interest rates and schemes such as Help to Buy and shared ownership, though buy-to-let investor demand is curbed by a number of tax rises, including higher stamp duty on additional property purchases.

Severe housing supply shortage
But the bigger problem in the housing market is supply.

Set against hot demand for property over the past two decades is an ongoing and severe shortage of housing supply across the UK. This shortage is most acute in London and south-east England, but also affects other areas, particularly urban centres.

“Estimates have put the number of new homes needed in England at between 240,000 and 340,000 per year, accounting for new household formation and a backlog of existing need for suitable housing,” according to a House of Commons briefing paper.

“In 2017/18, the total housing stock in England increased by around 222,000 homes. This was 2% higher than the year before — and the amount of new homes supplied annually has been growing for several years — but is still lower than estimated need.”

The number of homes built has consistently fallen substantially short of demand for a while, a problem that deepens each passing year. So why can’t we build enough homes?

The most fundamental problem is the country’s strict planning laws, particularly in England, where a tangle of complex regulations hinder development. Planning laws have a bias against development and put a lot of power in the hands of local communities to block construction.

Local planners are at the mercy of the communities they serve. The politics of planning make it hard for them to approve developments without facing a substantial backlash. Councillors on planning committees are keen not to upset their voters.

One example is the “green belt” protections. It is incredibly hard to build housing within green belt areas, even if some of the land within them is not considered “green,” such as fields used for environmentally-damaging intensive farming.

Planning restrictions limit the supply of land available for developers to build on and increase the building cost even on land where housing is permitted. This drives up the price of land for developers, so they build fewer homes.

House prices would be 35% lower on average if all regulatory constraints on housebuilding were removed, according to a 2013 academic study titled “The Impact of Supply Constraints on House Prices in England.”

“Our findings point to the English planning system as an important causal factor behind this ‘affordability crisis,’” the study’s authors Christian A. L. Hilber and Wouter Vermeulen wrote.

In short, a boom in housing demand fuelled by loose lenders and severe constraints on supply have pushed house prices higher and higher.

Source: Yahoo Finance UK

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House prices down 1.6 per cent last month after surprise leap in February

HOUSE prices fell by 1.6 per cent month-on-month in March following a huge 6 per cent jump in February, figures show.

Across the UK, the average house price was £233,181 last month – 2.6 per cent higher than a year earlier – Halifax said.

February’s month-on-month increase had been a record for the index, which started in 1983, taking housing market commentators, who described the jump as “eye-watering”, by surprise.

Russell Galley, Halifax managing director, said the 1.6 per cent month-on-month fall “partly corrects the significant growth seen last month and again demonstrates the risk in focusing too heavily on short-term, volatile measures”.

He continued: “Industry-wide figures show that the number of mortgages being approved remains around 40 per cent below pre-financial crisis levels, and we know that lower levels of activity can lead to bigger price movements.

“The more stable measure of annual house price growth rose slightly to 2.6 per cent and is still within our expectation for the year.”

Mr Galley said the challenges of raising a deposit to buy a home and lower housing market activity generally, combined with ongoing uncertainty around Brexit, have had an impact across the country – “but most notably in London, meaning that we continue to expect subdued price growth for the time being”.

Howard Archer, chief economic adviser at EY ITEM Club, said: “A marked correction in house prices was only to be expected in March following the eye-watering and frankly bizarre record 6 per cent month-on-month jump in prices reported in February.

“The overall impression is that the housing market is currently soft as it is being hampered by challenging conditions with buyer caution currently being reinforced by heightened Brexit and economic uncertainties – although there are significant variations across regions with the overall picture being dragged down by the weakness in London and the south east.”

Samuel Tombs, chief UK economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, said he does not expect to see a sustained period of falling house prices.

He said: “Low unemployment and stable mortgage rates are sustaining housing demand, despite Brexit uncertainty…

“Accordingly, we still expect year-over-year growth in the official measure of house prices to stabilise at about 1.5 per cent this year.”

Sam Mitchell of online estate agents Housesimple said: “The danger of reading too much into monthly price changes at the moment is perfectly illustrated by what we’ve seen in the first three months of 2019.

“Uncertainty around Brexit and low stock levels are major contributory factors, as is the impact of a market slowdown in London.

“If you take London out of the equation, we are seeing more normal market conditions in other parts of the country, particularly in the north, with healthy levels of transactions during this early spring period, when traditionally there’s more activity in the market.”

Source: Irish News