House prices fall in April

House prices

House prices fell slightly last month and look likely to remain flat through 2010 according to the Halifax house price index.

The mortgage lender said that prices fell by 0.1% in April following a 1% increase in March, with the average house now worth £168,202. 

Halifax also looked at the annual growth in house prices, alongside its month-by-month comparisons. An average of the last three months’ house price figures showed an increase of 6.6% on the same period last year.

Martin Ellis, housing economist at Halifax, says: "The underlying rate of house price growth has slowed in recent months following the relatively sharp rebound, albeit from a low base, in the second half of 2009.

“The improvement in house prices since spring 2009 has encouraged more people to try to sell their property. New sales instructions have risen, helping to push up the stock of unsold properties in recent months.

“As a result, the imbalance between supply and demand is easing somewhat. Our view is that house prices will be flat during 2010 as a whole," he added.

However, figures released by Nationwide last week tell a different story. The building society said prices rose by 1% in April and reported double-digit year-on-year growth.

David Smith, senior partner at UK property consultancy Carter Jonas, says the conflicting figures reinforce the uncertainty surrounding the property market – and the economy as a whole – at the moment.

"These are uncertain times. But politics and house prices aside, the fact that money is very cheap at present means it is still a good time to buy, and still a good time to sell."

But Boris Kofman, director of Mayfair based buying agents Virtus Real Estate, says these are uncertain times both economically and politically.

“A hung parliament is the worst possible result for a property market that is short on confidence. Buyers and sellers were nervous before the General Election outcome, and their mood is unlikely to have improved now. If anything, buyers and sellers will retreat even further into their shells. 

"It will be interesting to see how the market fares once the election circus has died down. While interest rates remain low, we're unlikely to see a dramatic change in the property market's fortunes, but that could change dramatically overnight if rates start to rise unchecked."