UK house prices rise faster than expected in April

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 May, 2015, 1:47am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 May, 2015, 1:47am

British house prices rose faster than forecast in April, showing some signs of recovering from a slowdown in late 2014 on the back of low mortgage rates and strong economic growth, according to figures released by mortgage lender Halifax.

House prices rose by 1.6 per cent in April from March, compared with a forecast of 0.4 per cent in a Reuters poll. In the three months to April, house prices were 8.5 per cent higher than a year earlier. Both the monthly and the annual increases were the biggest since January.

"We suspect that housing market activity is now turning around gradually after losing appreciable momentum from the early-2014 peak levels," IHS Global Insight economist Howard Archer said.

However, Halifax, which is part of Lloyds Banking Group, Britain's biggest retail bank, said house price growth in the three months to April was slower than in the previous three-month period and likely to fall further.

"This measure of the underlying rate of house price growth fell for the first time in 2015 following three successive rises," Halifax's housing economist, Martin Ellis, said.

House prices in the three months to April rose by 2.2 per cent, the smallest increase since January. Ellis said he expected the annual rate of house price increases to slow to about 4 per cent by the end of the year, compared to a peak of 10 per cent last year, as wages were rising more slowly than house prices, stretching affordability.

Bank of England data has shown a steady rise in mortgage approvals in recent months, suggesting Britain's housing market upturn is regaining strength after cooling last year when new rules for mortgage lending were introduced.