The latest house price figures have revealed little change over the past month.
According to the Nationwide, the UK’s largest building society, house prices fell by 0.1% in April, taking the value of the average home to £165,586.
The small fall in April comes on the back of a slight rise of 0.20% in February and no change in March, pointing to a sluggish period for house prices, during a traditionally busy time.
However, the Nationwide’s figures do show a modest rise of 0.90% over the past 12 months.
Despite the seemingly sluggish figures, Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s Chief Economist, is more optimistic, he said: “House prices were little changed in April, declining by 0.1% compared to March after taking account of usual seasonal effects. Nevertheless, there is some evidence that activity and prices have gained some momentum in recent months.”
Gardener continued: “The three month on three month measure of house prices, which is a smoother measure of the underlying trend, has been in positive territory since October last year. The annual rate of house price growth also remained in positive territory, with prices 0.9% higher than April 2012.”
Slight rise in mortgage approvals
Turning to the number of mortgage approvals, Gardener said: “Similarly, the number of mortgage approvals has edged up from the levels prevailing last year and there are reasons for optimism that activity levels will continue to strengthen in the months ahead.”
The Nationwide reports that mortgage approvals in the first quarter of the year stood at 53,000, up by 2,000 in the same time last year.
There are also signs that lending to first time buyers may be picking up. In February 43% of all mortgages offered for the purpose of buying a home were advanced to first time buyers, the second largest percentage on record and behind only March 2012, which was artificially high due to the end of the stamp duty holiday for first time buyers.