Brokers say the housing market was very strong in March but are sceptical that prices rose by as much as 2.9 per cent, as suggested by Rightmove, which was the most optimistic index last month. But they also dismiss the 0.7 per cent increase recorded by Hometrack, which was the most pessimistic of the indices.
London & Country mortgage specialist David Hollingworth says the market is still moving forward more strongly than anyone anticipated. He believes the fact that a number of the indices have increased their forecasts for 2004 means they were too conservative at the beginning of the year.
Hollingworth usually finds that prices increase by the median point of all the indices, putting March's increase at around 2 per cent.
Mortgage Advice Bureau chief executive Peter Brodnicki says March was better than February, which also showed strong demand. However, he points out that this does not necessarily mean that prices have gone up, Instead, it shows that activity is strong overall.
Hollingworth says: “The demand is definitely there, so the market is still very strong. All the talk at the moment is about it slowing down gradually.”
Brodnicki says: “March was definitely a good month for us although this does not necessarily mean that prices have gone up. What is important is the regional differences in house prices and I do not think the indices reflect this very well.”