UK house prices steady in February as tax cut extension brings more certainties: Halifax

For sale signs in the streets of London indicate the great impact the EU financial crisis is having on businesses and people in the UK.

The average house prices in Britain remained steady in February and the extension of stamp duty holiday is expected to inject more certainties into the industry, the British mortgage lender Halifax said Friday.

Halifax’s House Price Index showed that the average house price across the country in February hit 251,697 pounds (about 349,690.9 U.S. dollars), growing by 5.2 percent year-on-year but down 0.1 percent compared to January.

“The housing market has been at something of a crossroads at the start of this year, with upcoming events key to determining the path of activity and prices over the next few months,” said Russell Galley, managing director of the Halifax.

The report came just two days after British Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak extended in the new Budget the stamp duty holiday on house purchases for another three months to June 30 this year, alongside a 95 percent mortgages guarantee.

Galley noted that the British government’s decision to “extend the stamp duty holiday — one of the main drivers of demand from homemovers during the pandemic — has removed a great deal of uncertainty for buyers with transactions yet to complete.”

“The new mortgage guarantee scheme is another welcome development from this week’s Budget,” said Galley, adding that mortgage approvals “have reached record highs in recent months, hitting levels not seen since before the financial crisis of 2008.”

Speaking of the prices ahead, Galley said in the longer-term the performance of the housing market “remains inextricably linked to the health of the wider economy.”

“The pace and extent of recovery are still highly uncertain, and much will depend on the ongoing success of the UK’s vaccination rollout,” he said, adding that “we would not expect the level of growth seen in house prices over the past year to be sustained throughout 2021.”

Since the introduction of stamp duty holiday in July 2020, the house prices in Britain witnessed an apparent hike, along with the soar of trading numbers.

Currently, England is under the third national lockdown since the outbreak of the pandemic in the country. Similar restrictive measures are also in place in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

To bring life back to normal, countries such as Britain, China, Germany, Russia and the United States have been racing against time to roll out coronavirus vaccines.