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Written by rosalind renshaw

Average house prices across the UK slipped by just 0.1% in March, says today’s new Hometrack report.

Although a tiny fall, it masks huge geographical differences. It is also in contrast to this morning's other house price report, the Nationwide's, which said house prices went up 0.5% in March, and are now 0.1% higher than a year ago. The Nationwide average house price now stands at £164,751, up from February's £161,183.

But Nationwide barely seemed to believe its own numbers, warning that the outlook remains uncertain, with consumer confidence at an all-time low, and that house prices this year are likely to 'move sideways' or sink lower. The Hometrack report is marginally more optimistic, detecting a small sign of improvement in public sentiment.

According to Hometrack, London house prices have been rising on the back of greater demand and dwindling supply. But across all other regions, prices tiptoed down by between 0.1% and 0.3%.

Features of the Hometrack report include a 4.2% increase in the number of buyers registering with agents, but this was balanced by a 5.2% rise in new property listings, so there are still more sellers than buyers – suggesting that prices could come under further pressure.

The increase in the number of new buyers registering in March was also slower than the rise in buyers seen in February.

The report puts the average price of a property at just £153,100 – about £10,000 lower than the other main indices, Land Registry, Nationwide and Halifax.

Time on the market varies enormously across the country, but in every single region, including London, it is longer than it was in March 2010.

Richard Donnell, director of research at Hometrack, said: “Hometrack’s latest survey of over 5,000 agents and surveyors across the country reveals that London recorded the first monthly price rise of any region over the last eight months.

“Prices in the capital moved 0.2% higher on the back of a 25% increase in demand (over a two-month period) and tightening supply. Central London saw some of the highest price rises with a 1% increase over the month.

“In contrast, east London registered a 0.2% fall in prices, reflecting the highly polarised nature of the housing market across relatively small geographies.

“Away from central London, pricing levels remain under downward pressure. Overall average prices moved 0.1% lower over March, a figure flattered by the relative strength of the London market.

“The survey recorded price falls across all regions in March with the exception of the South-West where prices remained unchanged.
“The modest improvement in market sentiment over the last two months – albeit largely confined to southern England – is largely a result of increased sales volumes.

“The survey shows that the number of housing sales agreed has risen by 38% over the last two months, but this increase is off a low base.

“For example, provisional data from HMRC shows that non-seasonally adjusted residential transactions were down 30% in January compared to December.

“That said, rising sales volumes show that demand exists and that pricing levels are at a level where transactions can take place – and this was not the case over the final half of 2010.”


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    Back to normal service...

    ...bashing each other over the head with a keyboard?

    • 31 March 2011 15:59 PM
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    Jolly good Jonnie, as we were.

    Ooh, this is like the Krauts and Tommies playing footie on No Man's Land. It won't last y'know...

    • 31 March 2011 15:52 PM
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    Rant – I agree mate, loads of people come and go on here but you have lumbered yourself with a responsibility based on your regular presence and the fact that you are not mental so to play your part in bringing balance you have to stick to your principles, I think I do, it wont be as much fun if we all start blurring the lines, can you imagine a little local agent like me going all national index? – Exactly.

    Sibley – Agreed, like it, ill keep doing the local / property type jobbie, it would be very odd if im advising someone on the sale of a big period house in a cracking road I based my view on cruddy little flats down near the industrial estate.

    Right – normal service is back on then lads?


    • 31 March 2011 15:00 PM
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    Since when has anyone believed anything you read in the newspaper? As none of these so called media experts can agree, at least one hasn't got it right, if any.

    • 31 March 2011 14:24 PM
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    Fair enough Jonnie; well for avoidance of doubt i'll stick to national averages. Principally, because that's the headline the public-at-large will read which, of course, drives sentiment regardless of regional/local variation.

    • 31 March 2011 14:20 PM
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    Jonnie - there was a thread on this site late last year with many posters bleating that Nationwide and co didn't present the real situation and regional indices should be used instead.

    If SIbbers and I are accused of trying to twist the data to fit circumstances, we are certainly not the only ones on EAT!

    • 31 March 2011 14:09 PM
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    Carful mate – I picked Rant up on this a while ago, you can’t have it all ways, either you use national figures or don’t, you can’t strip bits out – its bad form.

    ……………..then again lets take flats out, or Northern Towns, or just areas with high dependency on public sector, I think N Ireland might be in there, not sure but lets take that out, you see my point.

    The way to do it is to focus on the area and house type you are interested in or go all out an do National, not picking bits you do or don’t like.

    I like having you and Rant etc on here – not made up my mind on BRIT1234 yet but stick to your established principles eh?


    • 31 March 2011 13:59 PM
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    Prime London continues to keep national averages aloft despite incredulity from economists. Shame to see a 0.5% rise on the back of Monday's LR report; still, here's to next week's Halifax report resuming normal service.

    • 31 March 2011 11:33 AM
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    The Acadametrics guys are going to be mightily peeved with Nationwide. They had pencilled in a 0.4% rise for March, now they'll need to find 0.6%...

    • 31 March 2011 10:15 AM
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    What happened to that Government report into house price indices?

    Is some parasite consultant or lawyer dragging it out for their fees like they do with every other inquiry / commission / review / report or consultation?

    • 31 March 2011 09:58 AM
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    Yawn, Yawn, Yawn, Yawn.
    No suprise that more distorted & false figures come out like this. Dont forget the banks want to talk the market up as they will be in further trouble if prices keep dropping.

    Next thing to come out will be a positive GDP figure of Q1 2011 at about 1.5%+ to create further false illusions that the economy is improving!!!

    This country is broke, nobody has no money & when everybody can admit it from goverment down, thru the banks then to the homeowners/sellers who are all in denial things might start to improve as we will all be singing from the same hymn sheet.

    • 31 March 2011 09:29 AM
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    Unsurprising news - in four of the last five years, the Nationwide index has shown as increase in March, peak buying season.

    Has the new stamp duty level at the top end of the market had an impact here too?

    Interesting to note that while the positive monthly figure is from a report that uses seasonal adjustment, the smaller negative number is from a data set that doesn't adjust.

    House price are of course still falling in real terms. Good to see these reports being put in some context too.

    • 31 March 2011 09:21 AM
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