House prices record largest annual decline since 2009

Demand from buyers remains weak, with mortgage approvals 40 percent below levels a year ago.

The weakest region was Scotland, while the West Midlands was the most resilient.

Prices in Scotland fell by 3.1 percent in the three months to March compared to the same period last year. But in the West Midlands they were 1.4 percent higher.

Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said the housing market reached a “turning point” last year because of market turbulence following the mini-Budget, which pushed fixed mortgage rates above 6%.

Although fixed mortgage rates have fallen since then, they remain well above previous levels.

According to the Bank of England, the average five-year fixed mortgage rate for a 25 percent deposit was 4.4 percent in February, compared with 1.8 percent a year ago.

Mr Gardner said: “It will be difficult for the market to regain much momentum in the near term as consumer confidence remains weak and household budgets continue to be squeezed by high inflation.

“Housing affordability also remains under pressure, while mortgage rates remain well above last year’s lows at this point.”

Tom Bill, of brokerage firm Knight Frank, said: “There will be more financial pain in the system as owners move to higher fixed rate deals.”

Alice Haine, a personal finance analyst at brokerage firm Bestinvest, said the data “reinforced the gloom for the real estate market.”

She said: “The red-hot real estate market of pandemic days – when buyers bought bigger homes in the race for space, aided by temporary stamp duty incentives – is now behind us, with buyers and lenders taking a much more conservative approach to homeownership. .”