U.K. Home Prices Rose in March on Tax Holiday, Academetrics Says

April 13 (Bloomberg) -- U.K. house prices rose for a fourth month in March as a “rush” to buy before the expiry of a tax holiday on some home purchases boosted demand, Acadametrics Ltd. and LSL Property Services Plc said.

The average price of a home in England and Wales rose 0.2 percent from February to 221,543 pounds ($353,000), the groups said in an e-mailed report in London today. From a year earlier, values fell 1.3 percent, matching February’s annual fall.

“Given that the holiday was saving first-time buyers between 1,000 pounds and 2,500 pounds, it is no wonder that transactions were higher,” said Acadametrics Chairman Peter Williams. “We can perhaps hope to see a clearer market-driven price response over coming months. With inflation edging down, we are beginning to see house-price falls, in real terms, beginning to moderate.”

While surveys of manufacturing and construction this month suggested the U.K. avoided a recession, consumers are still being squeezed by government spending cuts and inflation that is outpacing wage growth. Bank of England policy makers maintained their asset-purchase target at 325 billion pounds last week and kept their benchmark interest rate at a record low 0.5 percent.

Out of the 10 regions tracked by Acadametrics, all apart from London saw average values decline on an annual basis in the three months through March.

Nationally, the number of transactions rose by 31.4 percent compared with a year earlier to more than 60,000, a “level not seen in the month of March since 2008,” according to the report. From the previous month, transactions rose 32 percent.

Acadametrics and LSL combine initial transaction data from the U.K. Land Registry and results from other price measures for their index of values.

To contact the reporter on this story: Colm Heatley in Belfast at cheatley@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Douglas Lytle at dlytle@bloomberg.net