Halifax says rush to beat duty pushed up prices

A last-minute dash by first-time buyers to beat a deadline on avoiding stamp duty sent house prices jumping 2.2 per cent last month, according to Halifax.

The Coalition had raised the threshold on stamp duty to £250,000 to help the housing market but lowered it back to £125,000 two weeks ago, sucking more housebuyers into the revenue net.

The temporary fillip to the market took the average UK property price up to £163,803 in March, although prices are still down 0.6 per cent year-on-year. Halifax's Martin Ellis said: "Efforts by first-time buyers to beat the expiry of the stamp duty holiday at the end of March have probably increased sales in recent months and may have helped to support prices."

Ed Stansfield at Capital Economics said: "March's jump in the Halifax index simply offset the falls recorded in the previous six months or so."

Halifax's March rise also contrasts starkly with Nationwide's house price index, which showed a 1 per cent fall in prices during the month.