Tuesday, April 28, 2009

UK home prices fall 10.1% in April

(LONDON) House prices in England and Wales fell by 10.1 per cent in April compared with a year ago, while prices declined at their slowest monthly pace for a year, property data company Hometrack said yesterday.

April's annual fall is a modest improvement from the 10.3 per cent decline recorded in March, which was a survey low, and leaves the achievable price of a home at £155,600, it said.

Hometrack said the slowdown in the monthly rate of decline to 0.3 per cent from 0.6 per cent in March reflected an increase in optimism from estate agents driven by increased levels of market activity.

However, it said it was too early to call a revival of the housing market, and warned the improvements in April's survey may be seasonal.

Recent housing market data have been mixed: official figures suggest that approvals for home loans have edged up from record lows, but surveys from mortgage lenders Nationwide and Halifax sent opposing signals on house prices last month.

Analysts reckon the housing market will remain under pressure for some time yet as rising unemployment and tough borrowing conditions deter people from entering the property market.

'Only when first-time buyers feel confident to enter the market in significant numbers can we really start to claim any 'real' green shoots of recovery,' said Hometrack director of research Richard Donnell.

'This suggests to us that the recent pick-up in demand is largely seasonal and unlikely to be sustained over the rest of the year.' Still, the survey did show improvement in a number of indicators.

The number of sales agreed in April rose by nearly 15 per cent after a rise of 18.6 per cent in March, while the number of prospective buyers registering with estate agents rose by 6 per cent in April after an 8.5 per cent rise in March.

'The increase in demand, together with a move to more realistic pricing, has supported a growth in the number of sales,' according to the survey. -- Reuters

Source: Business Times, 28 April 2009

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