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House prices fell by 2.5% in March, says Halifax

House prices fell by 2.5 per cent in March, according to the Halifax house price survey.

The biggest house price falls were seen in the West Midlands which fell 5 per cent and Wales which saw a drop of 4.7 per cent.

Halifax says prices in quarter one were 1 per cent lower than in the fourth quarter 2007 but 1.1 per cent higher than a year earlier.

The biggest rises were in Greater London which saw an increase of 1.6 per cent, East Anglia at 1.4 per cent and East Midlands at an increase of 2.2 per cent.

Halifax says it expects there to be a low single digit decline in UK house prices this year.

It points out that any decline should be viewing in the context of the significant price rises over recent years.

UK prices have increased by 171 per cent over the past ten years and by 51 per cent over the last five years.

The average UK price has risen by £120,860 during the past decade from £70,696 to £191,556.

Halifax says that while it expects there to be a modest rise in unemployment later in the year, but the scale of the increase is unlikely to cause widespread difficulties for households.

Chief economist Martin Ellis says: “House prices fell by 2.5 per cent in March. Prices in 2008 quarter 1 were 1.0 per cent lower than in 2007 quarter 4. Overall, we expect there to be a modest fall in UK house prices this year. Any
declines, however, should be viewed in the context of the significant price
rises over recent years. The average UK price has risen by £120,860 during the past decade from £70,696 to £191,556; an increase of 171 per cent.”

Conservative Shadow Housing Minister Grant Shapps says: “Buying a home has become a distant dream for many couples who simply cannot afford to stump up over £30,000 for the average deposit. Gordon Brown’s crippling levels of stamp duty mean it is simply not a possibility for people to get on to the property ladder. Labour should continue with their penchant for stealing our policies and adopt our pledge to increase the stamp duty threshold for first time buyers to £250,000 so that 9 out of 10 people pay nothing.”

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