UK house prices flat in March
The average price of a home in the UK was unchanged in March, according to the latest Nationwide House Price Index, which said the outlook was “unusually uncertain.”
Although prices were flat month-on-month in March at £164,630 on average, they were up by 0.8pc on a year ago, marking the first year-on-year rise since February last year, the index showed.
Nationwide’s study found huge variations in the performance of local housing markets, with prices up year-on-year by 15pc in the London borough of Camden and in Cambridge, but down by 10pc in Liverpool and Carlisle.
On a regional level, London recorded the strongest annual growth, with a 4.6pc increase pushing average prices to a new high of £306,919 – beating their 2007 peak.
Wales was the second-best performing area of the UK, with prices up by 2.5pc year-on-year to typically reach £132,971, while Scotland was the worst-performing area of the UK in the Nationwide study, with house prices down by 4.9pc to reach £128,594 on average.
Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist said in recent months buyer demand had been supported by healthy rates of employment, as well of the Bank of England’s Funding for Lending Scheme, which has helped to reduce mortgage costs and increase availability.
“[However], the outlook for the housing market is unusually uncertain at present, in part because the prospects for the wider economy are unclear, but also as the impact of a number of policy initiatives is hard to gauge,” he said.
Jonathan Samuels, chief executive of Dragonfly Property Finance, said that while there was no change in prices in March, confidence in the market was “anything other than flat”.
“With the Funding for Lending Scheme appearing to have had an impact, and Help to Buy on the horizon, there is a degree of expectation in the market,” he said.
However, he said there was a worry that sellers were becoming overly confident and overestimating the value of their home
“There is confidence and there is overconfidence. In many areas of the country we are tipping into the latter,” he said.
“The UK economy is still extremely weak, inflation cripplingly high and the latest jobs numbers, let’s not forget, saw an increase in the number of unemployed.
“Add increased uncertainty in the Eurozone into the mix and the conclusion is that the perception surrounding the property market is disconnecting from the reality.”