Figures published on Friday showed that annual house price growth softened to 3.5 per cent over the last month, down from 4.5 per cent in February. House prices fell by 0.3 per cent.
“There was a mixed picture across the UK in [the first quarter of 2017],” said Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist. “Six regions saw the pace of house price growth accelerate, six saw a deceleration and one (East Midlands) recorded the same rate as the previous quarter.”
He said that the South of England continued to see slightly stronger price growth than the North of England, but that there was a narrowing in that differential.
The figures also showed that home ownership fell to its lowest level in almost 32 years.
Mr Gardner said that over the past decade, there had been a particularly marked decline in the home ownership rate among young adults, or those aged between 25 and 34.
That is traditionally the segment that includes the most first-time buyers.
Nationwide said that about 38 per cent of young adults now owns property, which is “considerably” lower than was the case a decade ago.
The proportion of home ownership has also fallen sharply among those aged 35 to 44. It currently stands at about 56 per cent, down from 74 per cent in 2006.
The average cost of a house in the UK, according to the latest Nationwide figures, stood at £207,308 in March, up from £205,846 in February.
Separate research by the National Housing Federation published on Friday showed that care workers, cleaners and shops assistants face being forced to spend more than 40 per cent of their earnings on rent in all nine English regions.
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