Residential property prices in the UK increased in March for the first time in 21 months, partly because first-time buyers rushed to beat the end of the stamp duty holiday, according to Hometrack.
Data published by the property analytics firm show that the average price of a home in the UK appreciated by 0.2% in March compared to the previous month, marking the first month-on-month rise in property values since June 2010.
London recorded the greatest property price increase, up 0.5% month-on-month, as four of 10 regions tracked by Hometrack showed increases.
Home prices in three regions showed no change from February and three showed declines, led by 0.2% drop in the north east and the north west. The number of new buyers registering with estate agents rose 4.4% on the month, adding to an 18% gain in February that was the biggest in five years.
The price rise partly reflects a hike in demand from first-time purchases to secure a new home priced at under £250,000 before the two-year stamp-duty exemption on 24 March.
Richard Donnell, director of research at Hometrack, said in the statement. "We expect prices to track sideways in the short term with the outlook for the second half of the year hinging on households' expectations for the economy and their incomes."
The stamp duty holiday for first time buyers has effectively been replaced by the NewBuy Scheme, which offers homebuyers up to 95% mortgages on new homes priced up to £500,000, with the remaining 5% being underwritten by the housebuilder and Government.
NewBuy, which wsa launched last month, is available through various housebuilders, including Barratt Homes, Taylor Wimpey, Persimmon Homes, Bellway Homes, Bovis Homes, Redrow Homes, Linden Homes and Crest Nicholson.