Homeowners ‘should start feeling positive’ about selling their property

Annual UK house prices edged up by 1.6% in March, according to new figures from Nationwide, the UK’s largest building society.

Every region of the UK experienced growth in year-on-year prices in the first quarter of 2024, the lender said. The average cost of a home is now £261,142.

While month-on-month growth in house prices fell by 0.2% in March, after taking into account seasonal effects, the overall figures have been cautiously welcomed by commentators.

Nationwide’s chief economist Robert Gardner said it showed “consumer sentiment is improving” as cost of living pressures ease and inflation comes down.

He added: “Surveyors report a pickup in new buyer inquiries and new instructions to sell in recent months.

“Moreover, with income growth continuing to outpace house price growth by a healthy margin, housing affordability is improving, albeit gradually.”

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The town that ran out of homes

Also released on Tuesday was February data showing financial institutions approved the highest number of mortgages since September 2022 but the figure of 60,383 approvals is still about 10% below the pre-COVID-19 average.

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Experts said the market would likely be boosted further in the coming months if, as expected, interest rates come down.

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Nathan Emerson, chief executive of Propertymark, said: “Sellers have every reason to start feeling positive about putting their home up for sale and being able to go on to buy their next perfect property.

“2024 has shown a positive trend that house prices are growing once again following three years of economic turbulence.”

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Foxtons chief executive Guy Gittins said: “The UK property market has well and truly sprung into action in recent months and we’ve seen a notable uplift in the volume of sales inquiries, viewings requests, and the number of offers being submitted.”

However, he cautioned that high mortgage rates remained a “concern for many buyers” and that they would continue to influence prices.