UK house prices fall in March, annual growth still robust

LONDON Fri Apr 4, 2014 3:40pm BST

A sign is seen outside some newly built apartments in Berkhampstead, southern England August 13, 2013. REUTERS/Eddie Keogh

A sign is seen outside some newly built apartments in Berkhampstead, southern England August 13, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Eddie Keogh

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LONDON (Reuters) - UK house prices saw their biggest fall in nearly two years in March, mortgage lender Halifax said on Friday, potentially easing concerns that the housing market may be overheating.

British house prices fell 1.1 percent in March from an slightly upwardly revised 2.5 percent in February - the biggest fall since April 2012.

Housing, buoyed by record low interest rates and government schemes, has been a key engine of Britain's surprisingly fast recovery. Bank of England officials have said they are vigilant about momentum in the market.

Other data this week also suggested that the housing market might cooling off a bit.

But figures from Halifax showed the market was still growing at a rapid pace on a year-on-year basis. House prices jumped 8.7 percent in the three months to March compared with the same period a year earlier - its biggest rise since October 2007. In February, it rose 7.9 percent by the same comparison.

"Housing demand continues to be supported by an improving economic outlook, growth in employment, rising consumer confidence and low interest rates," Stephen Noakes, mortgages director at Halifax said.

(Reporting by Ana Nicolaci da Costa, editing by William Schomberg)

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