House prices rose by 3.9 per cent in May, according to data from Halifax. Analysts had been expecting prices to rise by just 0.7 per cent this month.
IHS Global Insight's Howard Archer says the increase "is a real bolt from the blue and at face value unsettling for policymakers."
Values in the three months to May were two per cent higher than those in the three months to February, a measure which Halifax's mortgages director, Stephen Noakes, said "is a more reliable indicator of the underlying trend".
Annually, prices increased by 8.7 per cent in the three months to May on the same three months last year. Noakes says that there are now "signs of a revival in housebuilding which should bring supply and demand into better balance and curb upwards pressure on prices over the medium and longer term".
The latest data sees the standardised average house price at £184,464 in May, up from £177,524 in April. If you're wondering why you're seeing yet another average house price statistic, it's probably because we got Nationwide house price data on Tuesday.
Nationwide and Halifax data is based on the values of mortgage approvals that they have offered to buyers themselves, ignoring cash buyers. If you want the data on completed house purchases, then you may want to look elsewhere.