House prices rise slightly in March
House prices rose by 0.1% in March, but are still 2.9% down year-on-year, according to Halifax.
The average house price in the UK now sits at £162,912.
Martin Ellis, housing economist at the lender, says the recent increase in employment, particularly those in full-time jobs, may have helped to support the housing market.
However, prices in the first quarter of 2011 were 0.6% lower than in the fourth quarter of 2010, while prices are 2.9% lower than a year ago.
Halifax predicts that house prices will fall 2% over 2011 as a whole.
"Uncertainty over the general economic outlook and individual financial circumstances are likely to constrain housing demand, resulting in some modest downward pressure on prices," Ellis says.
In contrast, Nationwide reported a 0.5% increase in house prices for March, and predicts that prices will "move sideways or modestly lower" this year.
Stamp duty increased from 4% to 5% yesterday for homes worth more than £1 million. Unsurprisingly, London has the highest proportion of million pound homebuyers – 4.7%, according to Halifax.
The increase will add £10,000 to the total stamp duty bill for someone paying £1 million for a home.
A hugely unpopular tax paid on property and share purchases. Stamp duty on property is levied at 1% for purchases over £125,000 (£250,000 for first-time buyers) which then moves up at a tiered rate. For property between £125k and £250k you pay 1%, then 3% from £250k up to £500k and then 4% from £500k to £1m and then 5% for properties over £1m. But unlike income tax, which is “tiered” and different rates kick in at different levels, stamp duty is a “slab” tax where you pay the rate on the whole purchase price of the property. On shares, stamp duty is charged at a flat rate of 0.5% on all share purchases. Figures correct as of May 2011.