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Lifeless housing market lacks direction

Prices in the three months to April were 0.5% lower than in the same period a year earlier. This measure of the annual rate improved slightly from -0.6% in March and showed the smallest fall in prices since October 2010 (+1.2%).

There has been no change in the average UK house price so far this year. The UK average price in April 2012, at £159,883, was virtually the same as in December 2011 (£159,888).

Martin Ellis, housing economist, said: "Despite the slight improvement in the underlying trend in recent months, house prices continue to lack real direction with the current UK average price little different to where it was at the end of 2011.

"The monthly figures continue to fluctuate quite widely with a 2.4% decline in April, wiping out March’s 2.2% rise.

"The ending of the stamp duty holiday for first-time buyers in late March appears to have boosted home sales early this year as buyers strove to beat the deadline, and has probably contributed to the volatility in house prices in the last few months. 

"We continue to expect little overall movement in prices as the UK economic situation remains challenging."

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