House prices up by unprecendented levels

The standardised average price of a house inthe UK is now £102,227, up 0.4 per cent on February’s figure.

Gary Styles, head of group economics at Halifax, said: "The housing market has been very strong in recent months and the latest figures for March show further significant gains. House prices have risen by nearly nine per cent in the last five months and by 16 per cent in the last year.

"Our economic assessment is that house price inflation will ease over the course of this year as higher unemployment and weaker income growth reduces consumer confidence. A sustained easing in house price inflation combined with slower growth in consumer spending should help to reduce some of the pressure on the Monetary Policy Committee to increase short term interest rates.

"First-time buyers are continuing to find it difficult to buy property in many parts of the country as supply shortages and high prices are preventing buyers from getting on to the property ladder. However, we expect that an easing in house price inflation in 2002 (particularly in London) will provide some welcome help to this important buyer group."