30/03/2006

'Spring bounce' for house prices

House prices rose by 1.1% in March, the Nationwide has reported.

The building society said that the annual rate of inflation had risen to 5.3% - the highest rate since May 2005 - taking the average cost of a property to £162,083 in March.

Nationwide said that, after a brief pause in February, prices were now back on a "strong upward trend."

Nationwide's group economist Fionnuala Earley, said: "The pick up in prices in March continues the upward trend we have seen since the autumn, which has been supported by a solid return of buyers."

However, she added: "Utility and council tax bills are rising and on top of this, affordability continues to be squeezed as house prices rise further."

Nationwide also said that the recent changes in stamp duty, announced in the Budget last week, would only help 2% of buyers.

In his Budget, announced last week, Chancellor Gordon Brown announced that the stamp duty threshold would increase to £125,000.

(KMcA)

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