UK house prices rise by 2.2 per cent in March

The biggest surge in almost three years, according to Halifax.

Property ads in an estate agent window in Cornwall, England. Credit: Getty Images

House prices in the UK grew 2.2 per cent in March – up from -0.4 per cent in February – as prices continue to fluctuate, according to new figures released today by Halifax. 

Transaction levels, meanwhile, remain historically low. Property prices in the first quarter of 2012 were 0.1 per cent lower than in the previous quarter. Prices in the first quarter were 0.6 per cent lower on a year-on-year basis. The average price was £163,803 in March.

The number of completed sales rose in the first quarter; sales in January and February were a seasonally adjusted 81,000 in both months. However, market conditions have tightened slightly in recent months, driven by the increase in sales. 

The proportion of first-time buyers increased between the final quarter of 2011 and the first quarter of 2012.

Martin Ellis, housing economist at Halifax, said: “House prices in the first quarter of 2012 were little changed compared with the final quarter of 2011, showing a decline of just 0.1 per cent. This was the same as the slight fall recorded between the third and fourth quarters of 2011. The underlying trend therefore indicates broad stability in UK house prices. The more volatile monthly figures continue to fluctuate as a result of the historically low level of sales volumes, increasing by 2.2 per cent in March following February’s 0.4 per cent fall.

“Efforts by first-time buyers to beat the expiry of the stamp duty holiday at the end of March have probably increased sales in recent months and may have helped to support prices.  We continue to expect little overall movement in prices this year provided that the UK economy does not suffer a pronounced weakening.”