UK house prices back in black at end of January

 
Ben Southwood
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HOUSE prices swung back into growth in January, according to Nationwide’s latest house price index.

Prices grew 0.5 per cent over the first month of 2013, the data showed, so that the index was back to almost exactly the same level as during January 2012. This marks the first time in 11 months the annual change has been positive, it said.

Nationwide chief economist Robert Gardner put the improvement down to the Funding for Lending Scheme, which he said had “achieved some success in bringing down mortgage rates, with some signs of a pick up in lending activity.”

Despite the bumpy overall picture painted by the Nationwide numbers, separate data from LSL Property Services suggested that the first-time buyer segment of the market had improved significantly over the year.

December 2012 saw 17.7 per cent more transactions involving first-timers, LSL said, though these buyers faced less generous mortgages, taking up smaller loans relative to the value of their purchases.

And more encouraging news came from Marsh & Parsons’ London prime market monitor, which showed more Londoners upsizing at the top end of the market. Nineteen per cent of all moves in the fourth quarter of last year were upsizes, compared to 14.5 per cent in the previous quarter, the estate agent said, and compared to 17 per cent a year before.