UK house prices hit fresh record high in March as momentum rallies: Halifax

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LONDON, April 9 (Xinhua) — Average house prices in Britain hit a fresh record high in March 2021 as multiple momentums fuelled the market, the British mortgage lender Halifax said Friday.

Halifax’s House Price Index showed that the average house price across the country in March stood at 254,606 pounds (about 349,671 U.S. dollars), growing by 6.5 percent year-on-year and up 1.1 percent compared to February.

On a quarterly basis, house prices in the first quarter of 2021 were 0.3 percent higher than that of the preceding quarter, referring to the last three months in 2020, figures showed.

“Following a relatively subdued start to the year, the housing market enjoyed something of a resurgence during March, with prices up by just over 1 percent compared to February,” said Russell Galley, managing director of the Halifax.

Galley said he believes multiple factors have stimulated the market, saying that the continuation of government support measures has been “key in boosting confidence” in the housing market.

“The extended stamp duty holiday has put another spring in the step of home movers, whilst for those saving hard to buy their first home, the new mortgage guarantee scheme provides an alternative route onto the property ladder,” Galley added.

Earlier in March, British Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak extended in the new Budget the stamp duty holiday on house purchases for another three months to June 30 this year, alongside a 95 percent mortgages guarantee.

Speaking of the prices in the coming months, Galley forecast the elevated levels of activity to be maintained, with “consumer confidence spurred on by the successful vaccine rollout, and buyer demand still fuelled by a desire for larger properties and more outdoor space, as work-life priorities have shifted during the pandemic.”

In terms of the longer-term outlook, Galley expressed a cautious sentiment, adding that “given current levels of uncertainty and the potential for higher unemployment, we still expect house price growth to slow somewhat by the end of this year.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday confirmed that from April 12, non-essential shops will reopen and pubs and restaurants will reopen outdoors as Britain moves to step two of the roadmap out of the COVID-19 lockdown.

On Feb. 22, Johnson announced his roadmap exiting the lockdown, the third of its kind since the start of the pandemic in the country. The four-step plan is expected to see all legal restrictions in England being removed by mid-June.

To bring life back to normal, countries such as Britain, China, Russia, the United States as well as the European Union have been racing against time to roll out coronavirus vaccines. Enditem

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