UK house prices fall again, growing at the slowest rate in four years

British house prices fell for a second month in a row in April, suggesting households are feeling the pinch from rising inflation since last year’s Brexit vote and low wage growth.

Nationwide said house prices declined by 0.4pc in April following a fall of 0.3pc in March, which had been the first fall since mid-2015.

In annual terms, prices were 2.6pc higher, the weakest increase in almost four years.

“While monthly figures can be volatile, the recent softening in price growth may be a further indication that households are starting to react to the emerging squeeze on real incomes or to affordability pressures in key parts of the country,” Nationwide economist Robert Gardner said.

Economists polled by Reuters had expected house prices to rise by 0.1pc in April from March and by 3.3pc in annual terms.

It came as Government figures showed stamp duty revenues are up 16pc in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period in 2016, which was boosted artificially by the surge in purchases to avoid the 3pc hike for buy-to-let properties.

But this rise was dependent on the extra revenue from this increase in stamp duty; without it, receipts would be far lower, and they represent 23pc of the total.

Lucian Cook, head of residential research at Savills, said: “Investment and second home purchases among cash rich buyers have continued to be much stronger than expected, even though mortgaged buy to let investment has taken a hammering.”

At the top of the market, with homes worth more than £500,000, the number of transactions in the last three months was 14pc lower than the same period in 2016. But it was up 36pc up on the first quarter of 2014, before stamp duty for homes worth more than £925,000 was hiked.

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