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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 April, 2005, 09:35 GMT 10:35 UK
House prices stage rise in March
House hunters looking at house
Prices rose in March but annual price inflation continues to slow
House prices rose by 0.5% in March, according to the Halifax, reversing the 0.5% fall seen in February.

However, annual price inflation continued to slow, dropping to 9.7% in March - the first time it had slipped below 10% since November 2001.

The figures contrast with Nationwide's March figures, which showed a 0.6% fall - the largest in almost 10 years.

Halifax said the market was now stabilising and prices were largely static at a national level.

Mixed picture

"The picture on a month-to-month basis remains mixed with four rises and four falls in the past eight months," said Martin Ellis, Halifax's chief economist.

There are increasing signs that activity levels are now stabilising and house prices are broadly static at a national level
Martin Ellis, Halifax economist

"Overall, however, there has been virtually no change in UK house prices since last September."

Earlier this month, Nationwide said that house prices were 7.9% higher in March than a year ago.

It argued that the housing market was in the middle of a "soft landing".

Overall stability

Halifax said that the average price of a UK home was a seasonally adjusted 164,714 in March, up from 162,816 in February.

Regionally, the strongest gains in the first three months of the year were in Scotland ( 6.1%), Northern Ireland ( 3.1%) and Wales (2.4%).

Average house prices broke through the 100,000 mark in Scotland for the first time in March.

The weakest areas for house price growth were the south-west of England (down 1.2%), East Anglia (down 0.9%) and the north of England (down 0.6%).

House prices in London rose by 0.1% in the first quarter of 2005 on the back of two quarterly falls in a row, indicating a stable market in the capital, the Halifax said.

"There are increasing signs that activity levels are now stabilising and house prices are now broadly static at a national level," the Halifax's Martin Ellis said.

A recent survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) found that agreed home sales rose in the first two months of 2005.

This was the first consecutive rise in agreed sales since last spring.

The RICS also said the amount of property coming onto the market was at its highest level in February since May 2003.

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