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House price growth

UK house price growth to March was 10.1% on an annualised basis, according to the latest Halifax figures.

Average house prices rose to £214,811 in March, up 2.6% from the month before. House prices in the three months to March were 2.9% higher than in the final quarter of 2015 (1).

The figures mark a new record high as annual UK house price growth returned to double figures for the first time in almost two years (2). The figures were well above consensus from a Reuters poll of economists, which expected a 0.7% monthly increase (3).

Changes to stamp duty mean that buy-to-let and second home buyers must pay a 3% surcharge going forward, which has let to additional buying pressure from these groups before the measure is introduced.

Halifax’s reported figures are generally stronger and more volatile than other house price surveys, but Nationwide, Britain’s other major mortgage lender, also reported a strong rise in house price growth, to an annual rate of 5.7% in March (1).

Halifax warned that the upward momentum may not be sustained, as weaker economic confidence and uncertainty surrounding Britain’s European Union referendum weigh on the market in the coming months.

Martin Ellis, an economist at Halifax, concluded: “There’s an acute supply/demand imbalance continuing despite an improvement in the number of properties coming on to the market for sale in recent months (…) This, together with continuing low interest rates and a healthy labour market, indicate that house price growth is set to remain robust (…) worsening sentiment regarding the prospects for the U.K. economy and uncertainty ahead of the European referendum in June could result in some softening in the housing market” (4).

 

[1] The Guardian. ‘UK house prices pick up pace with 10.1% annual increase’. theguardian.com

[2] This is Money. ‘House prices jump over £20k in a year to a new record high as double digit growth returns for the first time since mid-2014’. thisismoney.co.uk

[3] Reuters UK. ‘UK house prices rise at fastest annual pace since mid-2014 – Halifax’. uk.reuters.com

[4] Bloomberg. ‘UK house prices surge as Halifax flags ‘Brexit’ uncertainty’.  bloomberg.com

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