June 5, 2020 / 2:12 PM / a month ago

UK house prices fall for third month on COVID hit, Halifax says

FILE PHOTO: Guest houses are seen in Llandudno, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), Llandudno, Wales, Britain, May 27, 2020. REUTERS/Jason Cairnduff

LONDON (Reuters) - British house prices fell for a third straight month in May as the coronavirus crisis hit the market, but the decline was smaller than April’s, mortgage lender Halifax said on Friday.

Prices fell by 0.2% in March from April, compared with a 0.6% fall in April from March. Compared with May 2019, prices were up by 2.6%, a bit slower than April’s 2.7% annual rise, Halifax said.

The relaxation of the coronavirus lockdown for the housing market in England in mid-May had led to some early signs of action from buyers and sellers, said Russell Galley, Halifax’s managing director.

“Looking ahead, we expect market activity to increase progressively as restrictions are eased further across the whole of the UK and we continue to have confidence in the underlying health of the housing market over the long term,” he said.

Howard Archer, an economist with forecasters EY Item Club, said he thought the market would revive only slowly.

“Consequently, we suspect house prices will fall back around 5% over the next few months,” he said.

Earlier this week, rival mortgage lender Nationwide said British house prices fell by the most in more than 11 years in May, down 1.7% from April.

Writing by William Schomberg; editing by Larry King

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