Residential housing blocks stand in the U.K. (Photographer: Matthew Lloyd/Bloomberg) 

U.K. House Prices Jumped in March, Activity Remained `Subdued'

(Bloomberg) -- U.K. home prices jumped to a record in March, though the larger picture of a slowdown is unchanged, according to Halifax.

Values surged 1.5 percent from February, to an average 227,871 pounds ($321,600), the lender said in a report published Monday. But over the first quarter, prices were stagnant, it said, adding that activity has “softened” compared with a year ago.

The annual rate of growth in the three months through March rose to 2.7 percent. Halifax Managing Director Russell Galley said it will probably remain around 3 percent in the coming months.

While mortgages are the most affordable in a decade, according to Halifax, home-loan approvals have weakened and sales have been flat. It said prices will still be supported by a shortage of properties for sale and the fact that unemployment is the lowest in four decades.

Data from Nationwide Building Society published last month showed that values fell for a second month in March, and the Bank of England posted a larger-than-forecast decline in mortgage approvals. That’s all likely the result of household finances being under pressure and real incomes falling.

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