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House prices ticked up 0.5% in April

Christina Hoghton
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Christina Hoghton

Despite the rise, property prices are still down by 2.7% over the last 12 months

April saw a 0.5% rise in house prices after seven consecutive falls, said Nationwide.

The rise takes the average property price to £260,441.

Despite the small increase in the last month, the UK’s biggest building society found that prices are still down by -2.7% over the last 12 months, and by -4% since the August 2022 peak.

Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said: “While annual house price growth remained negative in April at -2.7%, there were tentative signs of a recovery with prices rising by 0.5% during the month (after taking account of seasonal effects). April’s monthly increase follows seven consecutive declines and leaves prices 4% below their August 2022 peak.

“Recent Bank of England data suggests that housing market activity remained subdued in the opening months of 2023, with the number of mortgages approved for house purchase in February nearly 40% below the level prevailing a year ago, and around a third lower than pre-pandemic levels. However, in recent months industry data on mortgage applications point to signs of a pickup.

“This also chimes with the recent shifts in consumer sentiment. While confidence remains subdued by historic standards, people’s views of their own financial position over the next twelve months, and general economic conditions in the year ahead, have both improved markedly in recent months. If inflation falls sharply in the second half of the year, as most analysts expect, this would likely further bolster sentiment, especially if labour market conditions remain strong.”

Sarah Coles, head of personal finance at Hargreaves Lansdown, added: “While confidence is moving in the right direction, it’s still incredibly low by historic standards. Part of the problem is that we don’t know how long it’s going to take for inflation to fall back. We’re still expecting it to be much lower by the end of the year, but there’s a reasonable chance that stubbornly high food prices and rising wages will keep it elevated for a few months yet.

“Even when it does fall, it’s not going to mean a widespread drop in prices: in most cases, things are just going to get more expensive less quickly. And because our wages have fallen so far short of price rises, it’s going to take time for our spending power to catch up – so we’re still poorer than we were before inflation kicked off.”