Average house prices in the UK reached a record high in March, a month when a package of measures was announced in the Budget to help buyers, according to new data.
Lender Halifax’s managing director Russell Galley, said: “Following a relatively subdued start to the year, the housing market enjoyed something of a resurgence during March, with prices up by just over 1% compared to February.”
He said: “This rise – the first since November last year – means the average property is now worth £254,606, a new record high.”
In the latest quarter (January to March), house prices were 0.3% higher than in the preceding three months.
March’s data shows that house prices rose by 6.5% annually, or £15,430 in cash terms.
Plans set out in the Budget in March 2021 included a new mortgage guarantee scheme to help buyers with a 5% deposit get on the property ladder. In addition, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said a suspension of stamp duty on property sales of up to £500,000, due to run until the end of March, would be extended to June 30.
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Halifax’s Galley said: “Overall we expect elevated levels of activity to be maintained in the coming months, with consumer confidence spurred on by the successful vaccine rollout, and buyer demand still fuelled by a desire for larger properties and more outdoor space, as work-life priorities have shifted during the pandemic. A shortage of homes for sale will also support prices in the short term, as lower availability always favours sellers.”
But he added: “However, with the economy yet to feel the full effect of its biggest recession in more than 300 years, we remain cautious about the longer-term outlook. Given current levels of uncertainty and the potential for higher unemployment, we still expect house price growth to slow somewhat by the end of this year.”
When the first lockdown started in March last year, people were urged to avoid moving where possible.
But the rules relaxed in May, and a number of estate agents reported pent-up demand for moves, with many people reassessing housing needs during the lockdown. The stamp duty holiday was launched in July.
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