House prices fell in March for the first time since June 2015, according to Nationwide’s March House Price Index. Prices unexpectedly fell by 0.3 percent contrary to expectations of a rise by the same amount.
The annual pace of growth slowed to 3.5 percent in March, down from 4.5 per cent in February and below the 4 percent pace expected.
“Six regions saw the pace of house price growth accelerate, six saw a deceleration and one (East Midlands) recorded the same rate as the previous quarter,” said Nationwide’s chief economist Robert Gardner.
“The South of England continued to see slightly stronger price growth than the North of England, but there was a further narrowing in the differential. Northern Ireland saw a slight pickup in annual house price growth, while conditions remained relatively subdued in Scotland and Wales.”
Recent figures from commercial property investment managers JLL reveal that the mood in the Central London development market did brighten a little during late 2016 and early 2017 as prices stabilised. However, the market remains subdued relative to the past five years with development activity slowing in response to a more challenging sales market.
“Activity in both the Central London and Greater London Development markets has slowed over the past year indicating a concerning trend that the Capital’s housing supply problems are set to continue. This is despite the Mayor’s initiatives, the Housing White Paper and the growth in the institutional private rented community sector,” said Residential Research Director at JLL Neil Chegwidden.
Nationwide also noted that homeownership is at its lowest since 1985, particularly among young people, a demographic traditionally containing the most first time buyers.
“The counterpart to this trend has been robust growth in the private rental sector, with 20 percent of households in England now privately rented, a record high, up from 12 percent ten years ago. The number of privately rented households has increased by more than 75 percent over the past decade and now stands at 4.5 million,” said Nationwide.