House prices down 1.5%

House prices were down 1.5% in February, but the average house price is still 8% above the bottom reached in April 2009.

House Prices DownAccording to the latest Halifax House Price Index, the fall in house prices in February was the first drop since June 2009. The prices in the the 3 months to February were 1.8% higher, compared to a rise of 3.2% on the same basis to the end of January.

House prices were affected by the stamp duty change which reverted to the lowest stamp duty threshold being £125,000. The bad weather also didn’t help.

Also, as market conditions showed signs of improvement it encouraged more homeowners to try and sell their property. As more properties were available for sale it helped to reduce the upward pressure on house prices.

Bank of England industry-wide figures show that the number of mortgages approved to finance house purchase, a leading indicator of completed house sales, fell by a seasonally adjusted 17% between December and January following a modest (1.8%) decline in the previous month.

On a slightly better note, house prices in February were 4.5% higher on an annual basis, the largest increase in the annual rate of change (measured by the average of the last 3 months against the same period a year earlier) since January 2008.

The average house price now stands at £166,857.

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