Slide driven by London and south-east slowdown as Brexit chaos seems to put off buyers

House prices fell in England for the first time in seven years in the first three months of 2019, dragged lower by the traditional property hotspots of London and the south-east in a sign that Brexit turmoil is putting off buyers.

Prices fell 0.7% in the first quarter, compared with the same period in 2018, taking the average price of a home in England down to £255,683, according to the mortgage lender Nationwide.

The biggest drag came from London, where an annual price fall of 3.8% in the three months to March was the biggest since the UK was in the depths of the financial crisis a decade ago. It was the seventh consecutive quarter of falling prices in the capital, with many homebuyers unable to afford a house after a run of strong price rises in previous years.

London prices have also been hit by a higher rate of stamp duty on second homes, which has dampened buyer appetite. Meanwhile, international buyers traditionally attracted by the property market in the capital are being deterred by Brexit uncertainty, according to analysts.

The latest Nationwide report suggested Brexit uncertainty and the effects of a weaker London market are starting to ripple through to the wider south-east, where prices fell by 1.1% in the first quarter of 2019, compared with the same period a year earlier.

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