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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

UK April house price fall biggest in 18 months

LONDON: House prices in England and Wales fell in April at their fastest annual pace in 18 months and are likely to slip further this year on fears about the economic outlook, Hometrack said yesterday.

The property data firm's monthly survey showed prices were 3.3% down in April compared with a year ago, the biggest decline since October 2009, when Britain was emerging from recession.

Stronger demand left prices unchanged on the month, ending a nine-month run of falls.

However, Hometrack said the pick-up in demand was likely to fade during the rest of the year as public spending cuts, tax rises and waning consumer confidence take their toll.

“The second half of 2011 is likely to emerge as a new phase where rising supply will constrain any further improvement in pricing levels,” said Hometrack research director Richard Donnell. “Weaker consumer confidence could result in a slowdown in demand which would exacerbate the pressure on prices.”

The proportion of the asking price that sellers received in April fell to 92.6% from 92.7%, in what could be an early sign of buyers' increasing power, he added.

The number of new properties listed for sale rose in April by 5.5%, compared with 5.2% in March.

New buyers registered with estate agents rose by 2.8% in April, down from March's 4.2% increase.

London continued to buck the national trend, with a 0.3% month-on-month price rise in April. Reuters

Prices fell in every other region, led by the northeast's 0.4% decline.

The British Bankers' Association said last week that UK mortgage approvals fell by 10% in March compared with a year earlier.

By Reuters

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