Monday, March 29 2004

Hometrack, a property website which closely reflects house price changes, has doubled its house price inflation forecast from 4% to 8% following its March figures for the property market.

It identified an 0.7% increase in house prices across the country, following last month’s figure of 0.9% which was the strongest recorded increase since October 2002.

Its National Demand index also shows both the number of properties for sale and the number of buyers has increased, although demand is still tending to outweigh supply.

‘The housing market this month has strengthened, with strong house price rises across the whole country,’ said John Wriglesworth, Hometrack’s Housing Economist.

‘Due to all these factors we have raised our house price inflation forecast for 2004 to 8%. Doom mongering headline grabbing economists predicting an imminent crash will soon have to raise their own forecasts, or face the consequences of looking incredibly foolish!’

These comments come as the Halifax estimates the value of residential houses in the UK has now reached £3 trillion, rising 15% in 2003.

All regions in the UK have seen the value of their residential housing stock increase in the last ten years, the mortgage lender said, with the greatest rise in London and the slowest in Scotland.

Tim Crawford, Group Economist at Halifax said: ‘The rise in the value of housing assets has had a significant positive impact on the health of household balance sheets. More than half of household wealth is derived from the value of residential property.

‘Households and also policy makers should note that the increase in the value of housing assets has outpaced the increase in debt over the past five years.’