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UK House prices “subdued”: Nationwide

House prices grew 0.7 per cent in the 12 months to March, according to Nationwide’s latest index.

Seasonally adjusted, prices rose 0.2 per cent month-on-month in contrast to the zero per cent growth recorded in February.

The average house price in the UK currently stands at £213,102.

Nationwide chief economist Robert Gardner says that “measures of consumer confidence weakened around the turn of the year and surveyors report that new buyer enquiries have continued to decline, falling to their lowest level since 2008 in February.

“While the number of properties coming onto the market has also slowed, this does not appear to have been enough to prevent a modest shift in the balance of demand and supply in favour of buyers in recent months.”

Nationwide also points out that looking at the first quarter of 2019, Northern Ireland was the strongest-performing nation, with annual price growth at 3.3 per cent, and England the worst, at 0.7 per cent.

This was mainly down to drops in the South East of England, the lender adds, highlighting London’s 3.8 per cent drop over the quarter compared to the same time period in 2018 as the main driver.

SPF Private Clients chief executive Mark Harris outlines that among the political uncertainty it is surprising that transactions and the number of mortgages approved has remained broadly stable.

He says: “While one would expect housing market activity to spike in March as we move into the traditionally busy time of year for buying and selling a home.”

Yomdel founder and chief executive Andy Soloman believes that it is “ambitious to expect anything other than subdued market conditions given that we remain very much in the eye of the political storm that has been building since June 2016.

Meanwhile, Mortgage Advice Bureau head of lending Brian Murphy takes the more positive view. He says: “The data released by the Nationwide this morning reports topline growth figures which continue to show modest increases, both on an annualised and month-on-month basis.

“Whilst not earth shattering by any means, what is encouraging is that they do rather point towards a housing market that remains resilient amidst the ongoing political and economic uncertainty.”

Housesimple chief executive Sam Mitchell adds: “Monthly figures are starting to show a common theme, with positive growth in the midlands and north of England, and negative growth in and around London.

“This is likely to be the pattern for the foreseeable future, until the EU situation is resolved at least, as the impact of protracted Brexit negotiations drags more heavily on the London market.

“The market would have preferred a decision one way or the other. Instead, we are now in this state of short-term limbo leaving many buyers and sellers unsure what to do.

“Normally, we would expect to see a spike in transaction levels around this time as we enter the traditional spring bounce period, but with the extension to the EU leaving date, the bounce is likely to be a little subdued this year.”

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