House prices up, mortgage approvals up

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( via — March 7, 2013)House prices went up by 0.5 per cent in the short month of February, bringing hope to the beleaguered housing market.

The figures from Halifax show that in the last three months prices have risen by 1.9 per cent compared with the same period a year ago.

It is the biggest year-on-year growth since September 2010 and means the average house price is now up to £163,000.

Halifax also said it expects house prices to carry on rising over 2013.

While the average house price is up, the figure remains lower than the one in April 2010 of £168,593 – and 18 per cent below the all-time high before the crash.

Halifax’s figures were different from Nationwide which said that house prices were up 0.2 per cent in February following a rise of 0.5 per cent in January. It said that in the two months preceding January prices remained flat.

So according to Nationwide, prices were technically flat in February.

However, mortgage approvals have been rising for five months on the trot, giving yet further hope to the sector.

These figures are from the Bank of England and analysts will hope that the summer brings its tradition boost to the mortgage and remortgage industry.

Approvals remain far below their peak but the rise has been roundly welcomed.

In December approvals reached their highest since July last year, but slipped back slightly in January.

Martin Ellis, housing economist at Halifax, said: “This increase in both house prices and activity in recent months is consistent with evidence of some improvement in market conditions.

“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.

“We expect to see a national increase in house prices over the course of 2013.

“Weak income growth and continuing below-trend economic growth, however, are likely to remain significant constraints on housing demand.”

Property analyst Hometrack recently found that three-quarters of the increases in house prices it recorded in February across England and Wales were due to rises in London and the South East.

Hometrack found that while prices increased in London by 0.3 per cent on a monthly basis in February, they dropped by 0.2 per cent in the north east.

Max Erskine remortgage adviser from said: “There is real hope and increasing confidence in the market.

“Ideally we want the rest of the country to catch up with London and the south east