UK house prices registered their first quarterly decline in more than four years in the three months to April, according to a survey by Halifax, in a further sign of slowdown in the country’s housing sector.

Prices in the three months to April were 3.8 per cent higher than the same period last year, slightly better than economists had forecast, but they slipped 0.1 per cent in April and were 0.2 per cent lower than in the preceding quarter.

The average house price in the UK is now £219,649, according to Halifax.

Halifax’s data tally with other recent signs of a slowdown in the housing market, with data last month showing a decline in new mortgage approvals and the Royal Institute for Chartered Surveyors describing the market as “stagnant”.

Martin Ellis, Halifax housing economist, said:

Housing demand appears to have been curbed in recent months due to the deterioration in housing affordability caused by a sustained period of rapid house price growth during 2014-16. Signs of a decline in the pace of job creation, and the beginnings of a squeeze on households’ finances as a result of increasing inflation, may also be constraining the demand for homes.

Continuing very low mortgage rates, together with an ongoing acute shortage of properties for sale, should nonetheless underpin house prices over the coming months.

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