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According to the report from Nationwide Building Society, house prices down 0.2% month-on-month, after taking account of seasonal factors. Economists had expected a 0.4% increase. Annual house price growth slowed to 5.7% in March, from 6.9% in February. Economists had expected a 6.4% increase.
Nationwide said that policy support is likely to boost the housing market over the next six months, but the longer-term outlook remains highly uncertain.
Commenting on the figures, Robert Gardner, Nationwide's Chief Economist, said: “Annual house price growth slowed to 5.7% in March, from 6.9% in February. Prices fell by 0.2% month-on-month, after taking account of seasonal effects, following a 0.7% rise in February. Given that the wider economy and the labour market has performed better than expected in recent months, the slowdown in March probably reflects a softening of demand ahead of the original end of the stamp duty holiday before the Chancellor announced the extension in the Budget. Recent signs of economic resilience and the stimulus measures announced in the Budget, including the extension of the furlough scheme and the stamp duty holiday, as well as the introduction of a mortgage guarantee scheme, suggest that housing market activity is likely to remain buoyant over the next six months. The longer-term outlook remains highly uncertain. It may be that the recovery continues to gather momentum and that shifts in housing demand resulting from the pandemic continue to lift the market. However, if the labour market weakens towards the end of the year as policy support is withdrawn, as most analysts expect, then activity is likely to slow nearer the end of 2021, perhaps sharply“.