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Construction cranes are seen on a residential building project behind homes in west London in Britain in this photograph taken on October 26

In February, prices had risen by an annual 6.9%, based on Nationwide’s measure.

In March alone, prices fell by 0.2% compared with a month-on-month rise of 0.7% in February.

A Reuters poll of economists had pointed to rise of 6.4% in annual terms and a 0.4% monthly increase.

Finance minister Rishi Sunak announced on March 3 that he would extend a tax break for buyers of residential properties and the launch of a new mortgage guarantee scheme.

Sunak introduced the tax cut last year as part of his emergency measures to help the economy cope with the shock of the coronavirus pandemic. Demand for bigger homes after the experience of lockdown has also drive a surge in activity in Britain’s housing market since last spring.

(Reporting by Andrew MacAskill, editing by Estelle Shirbon and Andy Bruce)

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