Annual house price growth increased by 0.5% to 2.6% in April 2018, Nationwide’s House Price Index has revealed.
This represented an increase from 2.1% in the year to March, after prices increased by 0.2% from March to April.
Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s chief economist, said: “In recent years, we have seen a recovery in first time buyer transactions, which are now broadly in line with pre-crisis levels.
“The easing in credit availability, including schemes such as Help to Buy, have helped boost activity.
“Meanwhile, home mover activity has remained relatively subdued, in part due to the lack of stock on the market.
“Buy-to-let purchases have fallen as a share of total transactions since 2016, which reflects a softening in demand following tax changes and changes in underwriting standards.”
Craig Hall, new build manager at Legal & General Mortgage Club, said: “There is a good deal for first-time buyers to cheer about in the housing market right now.
“Property prices are now rising at much healthier levels, while mortgage rates are still competitive and support from various schemes such as Help to Buy remains on hand to help buyers onto the housing ladder.
“However, we cannot forget that there are buyers out there who are still finding it difficult to take their first step, and for these individuals speaking to a broker can make a big difference.
“Whether it’s raising awareness about schemes like shared ownership or providing access lenders that are willing to meet their needs, advisers can play a crucial role supporting borrowers to find their route to homeownership.”
But Jeff Knight, director of marketing at Foundation Home Loans, felt affordability was still a problem for first and second-time buyers.
He said: “Cities in the North of England are experiencing sustained price growth, adding to the already substantial challenge facing those looking to get one foot on the property ladder and pinning their hopes on a home outside the capital.
“Even with stamp duty cuts and low mortgage rates alleviating some of the pain points experienced by renters and buyers alike, affordability continues to remain a concern for the majority of those looking for their first or second home.”
And Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, felt prices are rising due to a lack of supply.
He said: “The small increase in house price growth is probably more to do with a lack of supply rather than a burst of springtime activity.
“Nevertheless, a rise is more welcome than a fall and in line with other recent statistics shows that the market is continuing to follow a slow upward path, albeit without any fireworks.
“Looking forward, we don’t expect a huge change but we are seeing an increase in valuations and listings which is likely to show itself in a little bit more activity over the coming months.”