Page last updated at 09:59 GMT, Wednesday, 6 May 2009 10:59 UK

More house price falls 'likely'

Estate agent's window
There is no sign yet of the slide in house prices letting up

UK house prices are continuing to fall sharply, according to the latest survey from the Halifax.

The lender, now part of the Lloyds Banking Group, says prices fell by another 1.7% in April, pushing the annual decline from 17.5% to 17.7%.

It means that the average UK property is now worth £154,716, £33,264 less than a year ago.

The Halifax warned that house prices would probably continue falling in the coming months.

'More falls'

"Rising unemployment, low consumer confidence and the reduced availability of credit are all expected to exert downward pressure on the housing market over the next few months," said Martin Ellis, the Halifax's chief economist.

Vendors, in recent months, have become considerably more realistic about what they can achieve for their properties
David Smith, Carter Jonas estate agents

"As a result, further house price declines are likely," he said.

However, the Halifax said there were tentative signs that the slump in sales was now stabilising.

The number of new mortgages approved, but not yet lent, have risen in the past couple of months, while estate agents have been reporting a revival of interest from potential buyers.

"Vendors, in recent months, have become considerably more realistic about what they can achieve for their properties in the current climate, which is no bad thing," said David Smith, of Carter Jonas estate agents.

"It's realism like this that will bring the genuine recovery in the property market forward rather than put it off."

Regional difference

The Halifax's figures come shortly after the Nationwide reported that UK house prices fell by 0.4% in April.

UK annual house prices graph

Unlike the Halifax, the Nationwide said that the pace of decline in house prices slowed, but the typical home still cost 15% less than a year ago.

Recent figures from the Bank of England showed that the number of mortgage approvals made in March rose by 4% from the previous month, signalling the potential for more activity in the housing market in the coming weeks. However, approvals remain at a very low level compared with a year ago.

The Halifax data uses a measure to calculate the annual house price change which compares the past three months with the same quarter a year earlier, a method which it says irons out any short-term price fluctuations.

When comparing Halifax's average price in April to the value in the same month a year ago - as with other surveys - the figure is the same - a drop of 17.7%.

Prices in the three months to April compared with the previous quarter dropped by 3.3%.

The data showed that the cost to homeowners of making their mortgage repayments had fallen sharply alongside the Bank rate.

A borrower with an average outstanding mortgage of £107,000 has seen their monthly repayments fall by £111 since October 2008. Falling costs for individual borrowers are obviously dependent on the type of mortgage they have.

Although the Halifax data does not offer a regional breakdown in prices, the group said that areas outside the south-east of England had benefitted more from Chancellor Alistair Darling's decision to extend the stamp duty holiday for properties under £175,000 until the end of the year.

Some 18% of total sales were below £175,000 in London in September 2008 to January 2009, compared with 79% in the North of England.

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