The UK housing market has seen its “third successive increase” according to the latest survey by Halifax, demonstrating continued signs of improvement. The 0.5% boost in February means that property values are now 1.9% higher than a year ago, with the average property now setting buyers back £163,600.
House prices in the three months to February were up 1.9% from the previous quarter. Halifax housing economist Martin Ellis said: “This was the third successive increase in this measure of the underlying trend”.
“This increase in both house prices and activity in recent months is consistent with evidence of some improvement in market conditions,” he continued.
He added that house prices are expected to rise across the nation over the course of 2013. The review also showed that housing sales had continued on a “modest upward trend”.
“The more than half-a-million increase in the number of people in employment over the past year is likely to have been a factor supporting housing demand,” Mr Ellis said.
However, he warned that demand for housing may be dampened by weak economic growth and pressure on household incomes.
The forecast is synonymous with that of the Council for Mortgage Lenders (CML), which also said it expected some improvement in activity over the coming months, attributing this optimism partly to the government’s Funding for Lending Scheme which has helped reduce a number of mortgage rates.
However, there is seemingly some disparity between lenders in state of the housing market, with the CML reporting in February that mortgage lending fell 3% between January 2012 and January 2013.
“The housing market presents a confused picture,” said Mark Harris of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients.
“On the one hand, prices continue to rise on a monthly and quarterly basis, according to the Halifax, and on the other, lending fell in the final quarter of last year, according to the Bank of England.”