House prices up 2.2% in March

House prices increased by 2.2% in March, the Halifax House Price Index shows.

It follows a monthly fall of 0.4% in February and a drop of 0.1% in the three months leading up to March.

The average UK house price is at the same level as in July 2011. The UK average price in March 2012, at £163,803, was almost identical to that in July 2011 (£163,765).

Prices in the first three months of 2012 were 0.6% lower than in the same period last year.

Martin Ellis, housing economist at Halifax, says the underlying trend therefore indicates broad stability in UK house prices.

He says: “The more volatile monthly figures continue to fluctuate as a result of the historically low level of sales volumes, increasing by 2.2% in March following February’s 0.4% fall.

“Efforts by first-time buyers to beat the expiry of the Stamp Duty holiday at the end of March have probably increased sales in recent months and may have helped to support prices.

“We continue to expect little overall movement in prices this year provided that the UK economy does not suffer a pronounced weakening.”

Kristjan Byfield, director of sales and letting agents at Base Property Specialists, says: “The mad spike in March was a combination of extremely low sales volumes still skewing the figures and the brief rush to beat the stamp duty deadline.

“The quarterly change of -0.1% paints a far more accurate picture of the UK property market.