House price rises hit 2.1% for third consecutive month, Halifax says


House prices rose 2.1% on an annual basis for the third month in a row, according to Halifax.

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Measured monthly, house prices gained 1.1%, which is up on the 0.2% spotted in January and the 1.3% drop seen in December 2022.

This leaves the average property price at £285,476, says Halifax.

The lender also notes that house prices are circa £8,500 lower than they were in August 2022, but, Halifax Mortgages director Kim Kinnaird says, “remain almost £9,000 above the average prices seen at the start of 2022 and are still above pre-pandemic levels, meaning most sellers will retain price gains made during the pandemic.

“With average house prices remaining high housing affordability will continue to feel challenging for many buyers,” she concludes.

Meanwhile, Hargreaves Lansdown head of personal finance Sarah Coles says, “Optimism has survived another difficult month… there remains a glimmer of hope that house price falls this year could remain in single digits.

“However, it’s far too early to be calling a soft landing, because there are still an awful lot of challenges facing the market, which mean it’s likely to decline from here, and we can’t rule out something more substantial.

“House prices… fell over the quarter as a whole, so the trend is still downwards. When you drill further into the figures, it’s clear certain parts of the market are pushing the average up, and some are looking pretty miserable.

“Looking at flats alone, prices are down over the year. Meanwhile, when you remove new builds from the equation, overall prices are up around 1% – the smallest rise in almost a decade. Falling or stagnant prices could persuade buyers that a wait-and-see strategy is still worth pursuing.

“The resilience of prices in some corners of the market so far could actually work against sellers, especially now that mortgage rates are higher. A combination of the two – plus higher overall prices feeding into affordability calculations – means that even if buyers are still keen to move, their mortgage company may have other ideas.”

And Fine & Country managing director Nicky Stevenson comments: “We’re entering a critical period, as March could determine whether the property market benefits from a big bump in activity over the usually busy springtime.

“What the property market needs now is confidence, and we can expect that to grow if we survive the government Budget next week without any of Jeremy Hunt’s announcements reinflating mortgage rates.

“However, with another Bank of England interest rate decision due this month, buyers may be holding their breath long into March.”

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