House prices record biggest annual fall since 2009
House prices have fallen by 3.1pc in the biggest annual decline since July 2009.
Property values recorded a monthly decline of 0.8pc between February and March, marking the seventh consecutive drop, according to lender Nationwide.
The average house price was £257,122 in March, which leaves prices 4.6pc below their peak in August of last year.
Demand from buyers remains subdued, with mortgage approvals 40pc below levels a year ago.
The weakest region was Scotland, while the West Midlands was the most resilient.
Prices in Scotland were down 3.1pc during the three months to March compared with the same period last year. But in the West Midlands, they were 1.4pc higher.
Robert Gardner, Nationwide's chief economist, said the housing market reached a “turning point” last year because of the market turbulence following the mini-Budget, which pushed fixed mortgage rates above 6pc.
Although fixed mortgage rates have come down since then, they remain well above former levels.
The average five-year fixed mortgage rate for a 25pc deposit was 4.4pc in February, up from 1.8pc a year ago, according to the Bank of England.
Mr Gardner said: “It will be hard for the market to regain much momentum in the near term since consumer confidence remains weak and household budgets remain under pressure from high inflation.
“Housing affordability also remains stretched, where mortgage rates remain well above the lows prevailing at this point last year.”
Tom Bill, of Knight Frank estate agents, said: “More financial pain will enter the system as owners move onto higher fixed-rate deals.”
Alice Haine, a personal finance analyst at brokers Bestinvest, said the data “cemented the gloom for the property market”.
She said: “The red-hot property market of pandemic days – when buyers snapped up bigger homes in the race for space, aided by temporary stamp duty incentives – is now behind us with buyers and lenders taking a far more conservative approach towards home ownership.”