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House prices down 1.9% year-on-year – Halifax

by: Mortgage Solutions
  • 06/03/2012
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House prices fell 1.9% year-on-year in February, with a monthly decline of 0.5% largely reversing 0.6% gain made in January, according to Halifax figures.

The average property price in February was £160,118, 1.1% lower than the previous three months and the fifth consecutive month that the quarterly trend has been negative.

Martin Ellis, housing economist at Halifax, said: “Overall, prices nationally are at broadly the same level as last spring. This stability in prices is explained by the fact that market conditions have changed very little over this period with demand supported by low interest rates and supply remaining tight.”

In addition, first-time buyers rushing to beat the end of the Stamp Duty holiday boosted the proportion of Halifax’s house purchase customers who were first-time buyers for a second month.

Further relief for the market could also come over the coming months with falling inflation easing pressure on household finances, Ellis said.

“Many of the economic statistics released in recent weeks have also been encouraging, suggesting that the UK may avoid slipping back into recession. These developments are positive for the housing market outlook,” Ellis said.

However, he added that significant uncertainties persist: “The prospects for house prices during 2012 will, to a large extent, depend on events in the eurozone and the potential knock-on effects on the UK.”

Maria Kemp, of estate agents, Kemp & Co, said: “Many people are still very nervous about the health of the economy and rightly so. This is tangibly feeding through into prices.

“There is definite momentum at the higher and lower ends of the market, but in the middle it’s still very slow-moving.

“One real concern is that the recent SVR rises will start putting real pressure on household finances, in some cases forcing homeowners to sell.

“This could start applying extra downward pressure on prices moving forward and that’s before the base rate starts to move up.”

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