Halifax sees higher prices and more home sales

6th February 2013

House prices and the number of house sales are picking up significantly in the UK according to the Halifax.

The Halifax House price index is up 1.3 per cent on the same period a year ago marking the first rise in the annual measure since October 2010. The three months to January also saw growth of 1.9 per cent, the biggest rise since January 2010.

Most of the three month rise came in November and December though, because house prices did fall by 0.2% in January.

Halifax housing economist Martin Ellis says that market activity has also improved and points to further increases in house sales. He also credits the Government’s Funding for Lending scheme with improving availability.

He says: “Rising mortgage approval numbers point to further increases in home sales in the coming months. 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.

"The outlook for the UK economy and house prices is 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."

Halifax says housing activity is at its highest for five years. It says home sales increased by 5 per cent in 2012 to 932,000 the highest annual total since 2007 when sales were 1,619,000.

The bank says a further rise in mortgage approvals points to continuing increases in sales. The industry-wide number of mortgages approved to finance house purchases rose for the fifth successive month in December.

It adds that approvals for purchase – a leading indicator of completed house sales – increased by three per cent to 55,800 in December.

Overall, there was a 19 per cent increase in approvals over the last five months of 2012.

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