House prices fall for seventh month

House prices fall for seventh month
House prices fell by 3.1% in March, according to Nationwide, the seventh consecutive month that prices have dropped, and the biggest monthly fall seen since July 2009.

According to the building society’s latest monthly House Price Index, the average house price in the UK now stands at £257,122, which is 4.6% below last August’s peak of £273,751. Higher borrowing costs and steep inflation have put household finances under increasing pressure in recent months, although mortgage rates have started to stabilise.

Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said: “The housing market reached a turning point last year as a result of the financial market turbulence which followed the mini-Budget. Since then, activity has remained subdued – the number of mortgages approved for house purchase remained weak at 43,500 cases in February, almost 40% below the level prevailing a year ago.”

However, according to the Bank of England, this was the first monthly increase in approvals seen since August last year, with approvals for remortgaging also increasing to 28,100 in February, up from 25,400 in January.

West Midlands was the strongest performing region

The West Midlands was the strongest performing region in the UK for house price growth over the past three months, the building society said, with prices up 1.4% compared with the same period a year ago.

In contrast, southern England, including the South West, outer South East, London and East Anglia, saw an average 1.1% decline in house prices in the first quarter of the year. However, Scotland remained the weakest performing region overall, with prices down 3.1% compared with a year ago.

Mr Gardner said: “East Anglia, which was the strongest performing region last quarter, saw a significant slowdown, with prices falling 1.8% year-on-year, making it the weakest performing English region. The neighbouring outer South East saw a 1.5% year-on-year decline, while London saw a 1.4% fall.”

Annual house price growth in Wales slowed from 4.5% to -0.7% while in Northern Ireland prices were up 1.3% year-on-year, having noticeably slowed from 5.5% in the last quarter.
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