Thursday, May 7, 2009

UK house prices fall 1.7% in April

Prices have now fallen by 22% from their peak in August 2007

(LONDON) House prices in Britain fell by a bigger- than-expected 1.7 per cent in April and by 17.7 per cent in the three months to April compared with a year earlier, the Halifax house price survey showed yesterday.

Economists had expected a fall of one per cent on the month and a three- month annual decline of 17.7 per cent.

The mortgage lender said house prices were also 17.7 per cent lower than in April last year and that prices have now fallen by 22 per cent from their peak in August 2007.

The figures suggest the housing market is still a long way from recovery, despite some signs that activity levels may be stabilising, and Halifax said prices were likely to keep falling for some time.
Halifax said April's fall took the average price of a home to £pounds;154,716, a level not seen since April 2004.

'We think conditions will remain challenging over the next few months. The fact that the economy is in recession and unemployment is rising sharply is not a great recipe for demand,' said Halifax chief economist Martin Ellis.

'There are some signs that confidence is improving a little bit but we still expect further house price falls.'

Falling prices combined with record low interest rates have improved conditions for people who are able to invest in property.

Halifax said the house price to earnings ratio, a key measure of affordability, fell to 4.26 in April, the lowest since September 2002.

But lending conditions remain tight, Mr Ellis said. 'There are some signs that more deals are becoming available and that the restrictions on credit availability are loosening up a little bit, but it's still a lot tougher than a couple of years ago.' - Reuters

Source: Business Times, 7 May 2009

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