HomeBussinessUK house prices fall unexpectedly for second month in a row

UK house prices fall unexpectedly for second month in a row

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UK house prices have fallen unexpectedly in April for a second consecutive month, according to the building society Nationwide, which blamed the slowdown on “affordability pressures” amid high mortgage rates.

The average house price in April was £261,962, down 0.4% compared with March’s reading on the lender’s monthly index, which had shown a 0.2% month-on-month drop. City forecasters had predicted a 0.2% increase last month.

Annual house price growth reduced to 0.6% in April from the 1.6% reading the previous month.

Robert Gardner, the chief economist at Nationwide, said: “The slowdown likely reflects ongoing affordability pressures, with longer-term interest rates rising in recent months, reversing the steep fall seen around the turn of the year.

“House prices are now about 4% below the all-time highs recorded in the summer of 2022, after taking account of seasonal effects.”

Earlier last month, five lenders increased the rates on their fixed mortgage deals by up to 0.4 percentage points, in response to some economists pushing back their forecasts for when the Bank of England starts to cut interest rates.

Mark Harris, the chief executive of the mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: “As mortgage rates edge upwards again on the back of higher swap rates, affordability continues to be an issue for those relying on a mortgage for their property purchase.

“There are likely to be ups and downs in mortgage pricing in the weeks and months ahead but ultimately borrowers will have to get used to paying more for their mortgages as the days of rock-bottom rates have long gone.”

The Nationwide analysis pointed to some moderation in the recent recovery in housing market activity, in which mortgage approvals rose in March to their highest level since September 2022.

In a survey of first-time buyers commissioned by the building society, 49% of those looking to take their first step on the property ladder in the next five years said they had delayed plans over the past 12 months.

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Of those who were holding back on buying their first home, 53% said it was because house prices were too high, while 41% said higher mortgage costs were preventing them from buying.

Of those surveyed, 55% said they would be willing to buy in a different part of the country where house prices were cheaper, or they could get a bigger home.

Tomer Aboody, a director of the property lender MT Finance, said: “With a drop in house prices said to be created by a lack of affordability among buyers and uncertainties around interest rates and inflation, some stability or help is needed.

“Whether this comes from reduced interested rates, more flexibility on mortgages or potentially some stamp duty reform, buyers need to feel confident that they can commit to a purchase and move.”

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