08 Feb House prices show first annual rise in two years
House prices have recorded their strongest quarterly rise in three years in a further sign that efforts to kick-start the market are working, according to figures from mortgage lender Halifax.
Despite a 0.2% drop in January, the bank said house prices had risen by 1.9% over the quarter, the biggest jump since January 2010. The figures also showed the first annual increase in more than two years, with prices rising 1.3% year-on-year. Its annual growth figures are based on quarterly year-on-year figures.
The market has been buoyed in recent months by increased mortgage lending, the apparent result of the government’s Funding for Lending scheme which launched in August 2012.
The latest data from the Bank of England show mortgage approvals for house purchases rose for a fifth month running to an 11-month high of 55,785 in December, and lenders have indicated they intend to make more loans available in the coming months.
“Rising mortgage approval numbers point to further increases in home sales in the coming months,” Halifax’s chief economist Martin Ellis said. “The Funding for Lending scheme has helped lenders to lower interest rates and improve availability in the past few months. This is likely to have been a factor contributing to the pick-up in both home sales and prices.”
However, Ellis said the outlook for the UK economy and house prices was “more unclear than usual”. “Subdued economic growth and pressures on household finances are expected to constrain housing demand. Overall, we expect continuing broad stability in house prices nationally in 2013,” he said.
According to Halifax’s latest index, which is based on mortgages approved by the bank, the average price of a UK property stood at £162,932 in January. This is very close to the average price reported by rival lender Nationwide, which reported a 0.5% rise in January to £162,245. However, it said prices had not moved over 12 months.
Howard Archer, chief UK economist at IHS Global Insight, said: “This highlights the fact that house prices can be erratic from month-to-month and between indices. Consequently, it is best to try and form an overview of the housing market from all of the latest available data and surveys.
“Overall, the evidence suggests that house prices have firmed moderately as activity has picked up modestly from the lows seen around mid-2012.”