Survey shows house prices rising in the UK

Julian Harris
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UK HOUSE prices have been growing steadily this year, according to a closely-watched survey that suggests that the average value of homes is not stuck in a rut.

Halifax’s latest index, published yesterday, showed average prices throughout the country jumping by 1.1 per cent in April.

The report seems to defy other surveys, such as a recent study conducted by Nationwide which found prices dipping 0.1 per cent last month.

Monthly changes in prices are prone to volatility, yet Halifax’s quarterly change in prices – designed to iron out such fluctuations – also reflects a 1.3 per cent lift.

Some City analysts remain unconvinced, however. “This should not be taken as a sign that house prices are about to strengthen markedly,” said Howard Archer of IHS Global Insight.

“On the Halifax measure, house prices stood at £166,094 in April... still 16.8 per cent below the all-time seasonally-adjusted high of £199,612 in August 2007,” he added.

The market in the UK remains thin, with the number of mortgage approvals still low by historical standards – a factor that could account for monthly volatility in house prices, Halifax economist Martin Ellis said.

“Overall, [mortgage] approvals in the first three months of 2013 were one per cent lower than in the previous three months,” the Halifax report said, citing Bank of England data.

And despite the latest price hike, the report warned: “Weak income growth and continuing below-trend economic growth are likely to remain significant constraints on housing demand during the remainder of 2013.”