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UK house prices post first quarterly decline since 2012

Monday, May 8, 2017 - 16:50

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UK house prices recorded their first quarterly decline in more than four years, adding to signs that the property market is cooling.

[LONDON] UK house prices recorded their first quarterly decline in more than four years, adding to signs that the property market is cooling.

In the three months to April, prices fell 0.2 per cent compared with the previous three months, lender Halifax said in a report on Monday. In April alone, prices slipped 0.1 per cent, meaning they haven't risen for the past four months.

Almost every UK gauge is now pointing to a housing slowdown. Annual growth based on data from Nationwide Building Society is at the weakest in almost four years, while gains in asking prices for homes have also lost momentum. Mortgage approvals fell to a six-month low in March, according to the Bank of England.

Halifax said that in the three months through April, prices rose 3.8 per cent compared with a year earlier, less than half the 10 per cent rate reached in early 2016.

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Huge gains in house prices in recent years - a time of weak wage growth - have pushed home ownership out of reach for many, which Halifax says has curbed demand. Still, with shortage of supply also an issue in the UK market, that's providing some support to prices.

"Signs of a decline in the pace of job creation, and the beginnings of a squeeze on households' finances as a result of increasing inflation, may also be constraining the demand," said Halifax housing economist Martin Ellis.

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