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U.K. Home Prices Stagnate as Nationwide Sees Uncertain Outlook

U.K. house prices were little changed in March, according to Nationwide Building Society, which said the outlook is “unusually uncertain.”

The average cost of a home was 164,630 pounds ($249,000), the Swindon, England-based customer-owned lender said today. From a year earlier, prices increased 0.8 percent, the first annual increase since February 2012.

A struggling economic recovery and accelerating inflation have curbed housing demand, though a shortage of property for sale has supported values. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne pledged 3.5 billion pounds on March 20 to help home buyers, while the Bank of England is seeking to boost credit with its Funding for Lending Scheme.

“The outlook for the housing market is unusually uncertain at present, in part because the prospects for the wider economy are unclear, but also as the impact of a number of policy initiatives is hard to gauge,” said Robert Gardner, chief economist at Nationwide.

The report also showed that U.K. house prices increased 0.8 percent in the first quarter from the previous three months. Values were up 0.2 percent from the same period a year earlier. London led the annual gain, with prices rising 4.6 percent.

Hometrack Ltd. said this week that U.K. home prices rose the most in three years this month, led by a surge in London, where they increased 0.7 percent. Nationwide said the capital has seen the greatest recovery in prices of any U.K. region since the financial crisis struck. The average value in the first quarter was 306,919 pounds, above the 2007 peak, it said.

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