Halifax has reported that house prices in the last three months to February were 1.8% higher than in the same three months a year earlier, slowing from the 2.2% annual growth recorded in January.
House prices in the latest quarter (December-February) were -0.7% lower than in the preceding three months (September-November), the first decline on this measure since May last year.
On a monthly basis, prices grew marginally by 0.4% in February, following two consecutive monthly falls.
The average price in February was £224,353, down slightly from November’s high of £226,408.
Russell Galley, managing director of Halifax, said: “House prices continue to remain broadly flat, as they have since the end of last year. The annual rate of growth has slowed from 2.2% in January to 1.8% in February, the lowest rate of growth since March 2013.
“The labour market continues to perform strongly with the number of people in employment rising by 88,000 in the three months to December. Notably, this is almost entirely accounted for by full-time jobs. The strength of the jobs market may finally be benefitting wage growth, with the annual growth rate accelerating from 2.3% in November to 2.8% in December. However, earnings are rising at a slower rate than consumer prices.
“Despite the November rise in the Bank of England Base Rate, mortgage rates continue to stay low by historical standards. While we expect price growth to remain low, the low mortgage rate environment, combined with an ongoing shortage of properties for sale, should continue to support house prices over the coming months.”
Jeff Knight, director of marketing at Foundation Home Loans, added: “Whether the new government measures to set council targets will kick-start a housebuilding revolution is yet to be seen. Historically, red tape and regulation has delayed housebuilding, and even if these reforms need reviewing to ensure the infrastructure to meet demand is provided, steps to bring about new homes for the country is urgently needed.
“Spring is typically a popular time for moving house, with home-owners feeling more confident about either upgrading or downsizing, so it’s important to maintain momentum.
“That said, while this week’s reforms signal positive changes for the delivery of more affordable homes, affordability is not restricted to ownership. A dual focus is needed with efforts to bolster current offerings in the rental market for those not yet ready to fully commit to a property.”