House prices see monthly decline

Affordability remains a key concern for many aspiring homeowners struggling to get a foot on the ladder.

Residential property prices are continuing to slow across many parts of the country, as reflected by the latest house price data.

According to new figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), the average price of a home in the UK fell by 0.6% between February and March, adding to the general slowdown in the annual growth rate seen since the middle of last year.

ONS’ house price index shows that the average UK house price increased by 4.1% in the 12 months to March 2017, down from 5.6% in the year to February 2017, with a standard UK home now valued at £216,000 – £9,000 higher than in March 2016 and £1,000 lower than February 2017.

House price gains were led by the East of England and the East Midlands, with prices increasing by 6.7% in the year to March 2017. This was followed by the West Midlands at an average of 6.5%.

The lowest annual growth was recorded in the North East, where prices decreased by 0.4% year-on-year, followed by London at 1.5%.

The easing of house price growth will be welcome news to prospective homebuyers, but Andy Sommerville, director at Search Acumen, insists that the next government cannot rely on a sluggish property market to bring this relief.

He said: “It is encouraging to see that the issue of housing has come to the fore in this year’s election campaign with the Conservatives promising a ‘new generation’ of social housing and Labour pledging to build 1 million new homes.

“Policies directly tackling the critical issue of housing supply will offer sustainable solutions to further reduce house prices, making the dream of home ownership more attainable for many in the UK. But the question remains, can any party deliver such unprecedented increases in housebuilding?”

While it may look as though house price growth is beginning to slow down, affordability remains a key concern for many aspiring homeowners struggling to get a foot on the ladder.

John Goodall, CEO and co-founder of specialist buy-to-let mortgage lender Landbay, commented: “With rising inflation and recent warnings from the Bank of England that a year of falling wages lies ahead means we’re unlikely to see any immediate relief.”

“As the general election draws closer, we hope to see some ironclad commitments on housebuilding from policy makers,” he added.