Business

House prices 'marginally' up in March, says Halifax

Pastel coloured terrace houses in Camden, London
Image caption Halifax said it expected house prices to fall 2% in 2011.

House prices rose by 0.1% in March when compared with the previous month, but are still 2.9% lower than a year ago, according to the Halifax.

Its monthly survey found that the average price of a property was £162,912 - up £215 on February.

But over the first three months of 2011, prices actually fell 0.6% compared to the previous quarter.

It was the fourth consecutive quarterly fall, and "the best measure of underlying trend," said the lender.

"The overall decrease in prices in the first quarter of 2011 compared with the previous quarter was a little lower than the quarterly falls recorded in the third and fourth quarters of 2010," said Martin Ellis, Halifax's housing economist.

"The recent increase in employment, particularly those in full-time jobs, may have been an important factor supporting the market."

The lender forecast that house prices will decline 2% in 2011, blaming "uncertainty over the general economic outlook".

Halifax's month-on-month rise of 0.1% is slightly lower than that recorded by the Nationwide Building Society.

Its latest housing survey, published on 31 March, found that property prices increased in March by 0.5%.

While the Halifax figures showed a 0.6% quarterly decline in house prices, the Nationwide's statistics showed a 0.6% rise in UK property values.

The Land Registry's figures for England and Wales, which are considered to be the most comprehensive of the house price surveys, will publish its March figures on 4 May.