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House Prices Drift Down In April

House prices resumed their downward trend during April as the property market remained volatile, figures showed in The average home lost 0.2pc of its value during the month, leaving it costing £165,609, according to the Nationwide Building Society.

The fall follows two consecutive months during which prices have risen, although property values have dropped in three of the previous six months, while they have increased during three of them, showing the current unsettled state of the market.

The sharp fall came as the Bank of England reported weaker-than-expected figures for mortgage and consumer lending and cast further doubt on the strength of the country's patchy economic recovery.

Robert Gardner, Nationwide's chief economist, said that there was little evidence to suggest that house price falls would accelerate in the coming months, despite the fragile state of the economy.

He said: "Nevertheless, a strong rebound in the market remains unlikely, as the recovery is still expected to remain modest by historic standards. In our view, the most likely outcome is that house prices will continue to move sideways or drift modestly lower through 2011."

The latest monthly drop left house prices 1.3pc lower than they were in April 2010, the biggest year-on-year decline since January.

Figures released by the British Bankers' Association last week showed that the number of mortgages approved for house purchase had risen to an eight-month high during March, as activity in the property market showed signs of picking up. But at 31,660, the figure was still well down on the 70,000 to 80,000 approvals a month that are considered to be consistent with a stable housing market.

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