House prices grow slowly in March

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Higher mortgage rates affect affordability as the cost of buying a home strains budgets.

Nationwide has reported a mixed picture of the housing market. On average, property prices increased 1.6% from March 2023, marking the quickest pace of growth since December 2022.

However, a slight dip of 0.2% was observed in March compared to February, indicating the first monthly decline since December 2023. This fluctuation comes amid a backdrop of mortgage rates descending from their summertime highs but remaining significantly above the low levels post-pandemic.

Despite these rates softening, the cost of buying a home continues to strain budgets. For an individual earning an average salary of around £35,000, mortgage repayments now consume nearly 40% of their take-home pay, underscoring the ongoing affordability challenges within the market.

January’s figures showed a 15% drop in mortgage approvals compared to the pre-pandemic era, reflecting the squeeze from elevated interest rates, which have reached a 16-year peak.

The Bank of England (BoE) recently kept the key interest rate steady at 5.25% but hinted at potential cuts, with financial forecasts anticipating a decrease to around 4.5% by year end.

Nationwide’s analysis, which excludes cash and buy-to-let transactions — accounting for a third of all sales — highlights the affordability pressures dampening market activity and price growth, despite a recent uptick.

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