House prices up 0.4% in March, Halifax says

Sale signs Image copyright PA
Image caption House price growth has slowed in recent months

UK house prices rose by 0.4% in March compared with the previous month but the annual rate of property price growth slowed, the Halifax has said.

The lender, part of Lloyds Banking Group, said that property prices were 8.1% higher than a year ago.

This was slightly down on the 8.3% annual house price growth recorded by the Halifax in February.

It said that demand for property was being maintained by earnings growth and low mortgage rates.

However, Halifax's housing economist Martin Ellis said that rising house price and activity in the UK housing market should slow throughout the year as wage growth remained at a comparatively low level.

The lender, which uses data from its own mortgage lending is sticking with its prediction that annual house price growth will end the year at between 3% and 5%.

This would still mean many potential first-time buyers are likely to see property become increasingly unaffordable. The average home in the UK was now valued at £192,970, the Halifax said.

Traditionally, the UK housing market sees a "spring bounce" as potential buyers view homes during the lighter evenings. Some analysts have suggested that this could be dampened or delayed by the political uncertainty caused by the general election.

The Nationwide Building Society recently reported a similar slowdown in the annual growth of house prices. It said this measure had slowed for seven consecutive months.

Earlier this week, a survey of lenders by the Bank of England suggested that demand for mortgages had slowed in the first quarter of the year, especially for the purchase of high-value properties.

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