The latest report from Nationwide shows that house price growth in the UK fell in March by 0.3%, with annual growth also falling by 3.5%. This took the average price to £207,308.
In addition, the investigation shows that the gap between regional price growth is closing, with this now at its narrowest since 1978.
Rise and Falls
During the first three months of 2017, six regions saw property prices rise, six saw falls and there was no alteration in the East Midlands.
Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s Chief Economist, noted: ‘The spread in the annual rate of change between the weakest and strongest performing regions was at its narrowest since 1978 at 6.8%, the second smallest gap on record.’
‘The South of England continued to see slightly stronger price growth than the North of England, but there was a further narrowing in the differential. Northern Ireland saw a slight pickup in annual house price growth, while conditions remained relatively subdued in Scotland and Wales,’ he continued.
Quarterly, overall year-on-year prices rose by 4.1%. By country, rises were:
- England 4.7%
- Northern Ireland 3.8%
- Scotland 2.9%
- Wales 1.2%
UK house price growth falls in March
By region, prices in the South West, Outer South East, Outer Metropolitan, London and East Anglia all rose by 5% year-on-year.
Despite regional growth rates beginning to converge, there is still disparity in price levels. This becomes more profound when looking at prices relative to their 2007 peak. Prices in London for example are almost 60% above their 2007 levels, while those in the North, Yorkshire and Humberside and the North West are lower than their 2007 peaks.
Experts feel that the March dip in prices is not a trend, with monthly figures tending to be volatile. In addition, the fall is not thought to be connected with the trigger of Article 50 this week.
Jonathan Hopper, managing director of Garrington Property Finders, observed: ‘The market has become a muddled mix of extremes, with double digit reductions going on at one end of the spectrum and gazumping at the other. So it would be overly melodramatic to view the Nationwide’s latest data as a turning point. In reality, average house prices have been meandering for several months against the volatile and uncertain economic backdrop.’
‘Buyer intent remains strong in many parts of the UK, but buyers have become acutely price sensitive. No one wants to buy a home only to realise they could have got it cheaper if they had waited so on the front line, prospective buyers are scrutinising prices harder than ever,’ he added.
Russell Quirk, chief executive officer of eMoov, noted it is unusual to see a dip in the spring market. He went on to say: ‘Although an air of uncertainty on the run up to Wednesday’s formal process may have left a few buyers on the fence, it is unlikely to have had any direct impact itself. Although the market remains healthy which is great news for existing homeowners, those facing the sizable task of climbing the UK ladder are opting to concede and rent. Not just those at the first rung, but seemingly the third and fourth as well.’