House prices ‘rebounded in April’

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UK house prices picked up in April following a fall in values the previous month, according to the country’s biggest mortgage lender.

The Halifax, part of Lloyds Banking Group, said property values rose by 1.1% in April compared with March when prices fell 1.25%.

The annual rate of growth almost doubled with house prices up 5% compared to a year earlier when house prices dropped.

The average home is valued at £236,619.

Compared with 10 years ago, which was the trough in house prices amid the financial crisis, the typical UK property has risen in value by £81,956, the equivalent of a 4.3% average annual increase.

Various house price surveys have painted a subdued picture for property values in the last couple of years.

The annual house price rise of 5% reported by the Halifax, based on its own mortgage data, is out of step with many other surveys. For example, the Nationwide Building Society said April was the fifth month in a row in which annual house price growth was below 1%.

The year-on-year volatility has been explained by the Halifax as a result of the comparison with a low growth rate over the corresponding period in 2018.

The Halifax calculates its annual change figure based on the last three months compared with the same three months a year earlier, in an attempt to smooth out any volatility.

Yet, analysts still say the latest estimate from the Halifax should be treated with some scepticism.

“One explanation for ricocheting growth figures like this is persistently low stock levels. In sought after areas, this can lead to demand being supercharged one minute and gone the next, with price rises coming in waves as brief competitions for limited numbers of homes come and go,” said Lucy Pendleton, founder director of estate agents James Pendleton.

“Even so, the Halifax index’s behaviour so far in 2019 has been unusual to say the least.”

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: “The lack of supply and properties coming to the market is most likely continuing to support property prices, while cheap mortgage rates continue to attract those who are ready to take the plunge.”

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