Houses take another dive

Despite better economic growth in the first quarter of 2011, confidence remains low and according to Halifax, this has contributed to a decline in house prices from March to April by 1.4% to give their lowest average price since July 2009. Halifax has blamed this steady decline on a lack of confidence and the uncertain economic climate. However, despite this latest decline, Halifax have suggested that the trend may be coming to an end. Martin Ellis, from Halifax had this to say:

“Signs of a modest tightening in housing market conditions, a relatively low burden of servicing mortgage debt and an increase in the number of people in employment are all likely to be providing support for house prices, curbing the pace of decline. There are signs that house sales are stabilising, albeit at a level lower than the historical average.”

There are many factors that contribute towards house prices: the number of properties on the market, the number of buyers, the availability of mortgages and finance, interest rates and the future economic climate. How these factors change will have a crucial influence on the future house price trend. The following articles consider the causes and likely consequences of this latest housing market data.

House prices fall at fastest rate in 18 months Telegraph (9/5/11)
House prices ‘fell by 1.4% in April’ the Halifax says BBC News (9/5/11)
House prices post biggest fall in 1-1 ½ years Reuters, Fiona Shaikh (9/5/11)
House prices dive to a two-year low Independent, Nicky Burridge (9/5/11)
UK housing market remains weak Wall Street Journal, Jason Douglas (9/5/11)
U.K April house prices fall most in seven months, Halifax says Bloomberg, Svenja O’Donnell (9/5/11)


  1. What are the main causes behind this decline in house prices?
  2. The articles talk about the volatility of house prices over recent months. What is the explanation for this?
  3. If interest rates are increased by the MPC, is it more or less likely to cause house prices to decline further? Explain your answer.
  4. Why dies Martin Ellis, of Halifax, believe that the decline in house prices might reverse this year?
  5. How does the housing market affect the wider UK economy? Is these latest data likely to jeopardise the fragile recovery?