London house prices falling at fastest rate in nine years, says Halifax

Lender reports prices down 3.2% between January and March compared with previous quarter

House prices in London are falling at the fastest rate in nine years, according to Halifax, Britain’s biggest mortgage lender.

Prices in the capital were down 3.2% between January and March compared with the previous quarter, the sharpest decline since the depths of the financial crisis, according to regional data collated by IHS Markit and published by Halifax, part of Lloyds Banking Group.

London also recorded the sharpest fall in annual house prices since the start of 2011. Property values fell 3.8% in the first quarter from a year ago, following a 0.7% annual drop in the fourth quarter. London prices have been falling on a quarterly and annual basis since the third quarter of 2017.There was a small annual increase of 0.3% in prices in the south-east of England at the start of the year, and a rise of 1.9% in the south-west.

london house prices

Prices grew strongly elsewhere in the country. The east Midlands and East Anglia recorded the fastest rates of annual price inflation, at 7.3% and 7.2% respectively, followed by Scotland at 6.7% and Yorkshire and the Humber at 6.1%.

The standardised price of a home in London was £430,749 in the first quarter, the lowest since the end of 2015. Figures are standardised in order to track the price of a “typical house” by giving values to certain attributes of the properties and using them to calculate the price.

The figure for the south-east was £337,776, a one-year low.

Such prices are still far above the average UK figure of £223,819. Apart from London and the south-east, only the south-west and East Anglia remain above the national figure at £237,371 and £236,335 respectively.

Average house prices are lowest in Northern Ireland at £127,793, Scotland at £145,837 and the north of England at £146,648.

regional house prices

Across the UK, house prices stalled in the first quarter. Paul Smith, IHS Markit’s economics director, said: “The subdued performance of the UK housing market, especially in the south of England, seems to reflect a general lack of appetite amongst households at present for activity related to major purchases in line with the general squeeze on real incomes seen in recent months.

“Allied with a general undercurrent of Brexit-related uncertainty, plus the likelihood of higher – albeit still historically low – interest rates later in the year, the market seems set to persist in a subdued state for the foreseeable future.”

The figures came as Britain’s property surveyors gave their most downbeat assessment of the housing market for five years.

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The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) said that demand from buyers fell for the 12th month in a row in March, new instructions from sellers declined for the seventh consecutive month and prices were flat nationally.

One surveyor, Toby Whittome of Jackson-Stops in London, said stamp duty increases and Brexit had “killed the fluidity of the London market”.


Julia Kollewe

The GuardianTramp

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