Mortgages 

House prices jump 1.5% in a month

House prices climbed 2.7 per cent over the past year to an average of £227,871 – the highest on record.

The latest Halifax House Price index shows UK property prices gained 1.5 per cent over in March alone. 

Sam Mitchell, chief executive at HouseSimple.com, said: “For a month in which persistent snow kept cars on drives, this is an enormous rebound, albeit stock shortage is playing a major role.

"Now the snow has melted we should see a healthy bounce in activity this month as we come into what is seasonally a busy period for the market. Savvy sellers, who are pricing effectively, are having no problems getting offers.”

But others are less positive on the outlook - prices edged down 0.1 per cent in the three months to March, suggesting that the market is not quite firing on all cylinders again yet.

Jonathan Hopper, managing director at Garrington Property Finders, said: “The month-on-month jump in average prices shouldn’t be taken as a sudden blooming of pent-up demand.

"On a quarterly basis, prices are still stagnating and, nationally, the market remains stuck in its familiar pattern of tantalising inertia.

"For every two steps forward, it takes one step back.”

Halifax said activity levels were lower than a year ago and mortgage approvals were also down.

Some 101,000 house sales were achieved in February, the same as in January, while mortgage approvals were down 7 per cent from a year ago to 63,910.

A shortage of homes for sale continues to be an issue – the number of new instructions has fallen for 24 months in a row and the unsold stock level is at a record low.

That is despite the fact that mortgages are at their most affordable rate in a decade.

Repayments typically accounted for just 29 per cent of homeowners’ disposable income at the end of 2017, compared to 48 per cent a decade before.

Russell Galley, managing director at Halifax, said: “In the coming months, we expect price growth to remain close to our prediction of 3 per cent, despite the very positive factors of continuing low mortgage rates, greater affordability levels and a robust labour market.

"The continuing shortage of properties for sale will also support price growth.”

Mr Hopper said a lack of buyer confidence was hampering demand. He added: “While we are seeing a steady stream of buyers, most remain unhurried and acutely price sensitive.

"Frustrating thought it is, a meandering but stable market is what’s needed for a period. Unchecked house price inflation is neither desirable nor sustainable.”