UK house prices hit new record in April amid stamp duty holiday stimulus: Halifax

2021-05-10 13:06:12 GMT2021-05-10 21:06:12(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

LONDON, May 10 (Xinhua) -- Average house prices in Britain continued to hit a fresh record high in April as market momentum sustained, the British mortgage lender Halifax said Monday.

Halifax's House Price Index showed that the average house price across the country in April stood at 258,204 pounds (about 362,229 U.S. dollars), growing by 8.2 percent year-on-year and up 1.4 percent compared to March 2021.

On the quarterly basis, house prices in the latest quarter (February to April) were 0.9 percent higher than that of the preceding quarter, referring to the quarter from November 2020 to January 2021, figures showed.

"House prices in April eclipsed the record high set the month before as the market continued to maintain its recent momentum," said Russell Galley, managing director of the Halifax.

The reading of 8.2 percent annual growth rate recorded a five-year high and in cash terms, almost 20,000 pounds (about 28,058 dollars) has been added to the value of the average home since the market had essentially come to a standstill in April 2020, said Galley.

"The stamp duty holiday continues to add impetus to an extremely active market, magnifying the current shortage of available homes as buyers aim to take advantage of the (British) government scheme," Galley added.

However, "the influence of the stamp duty holiday will fade gradually over the coming months as it's tapered out but low stock levels, low interest rates and continued demand is likely to continue to underpin prices in the market," said Galley.

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 of short-term ahead, Galley said "we do expect recent levels of activity to be sustained over the short-term as buyers continue to search for homes with more space and potentially better suited for their new working patterns."

Meanwhile, Galley remained "cautious about the medium-term prospects" of the property market, despite growing optimism in the long-term outlook of the economy amid the vaccin rollout.

"As we said in March, the current levels of uncertainty and potential for higher unemployment as furlough support ends leads us to believe that house price growth will slow to the end of the year," Galley added.

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