House prices make their biggest leap for 10 years lot cheers

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The Independent Online

Renewed confidence in the housing market has prompted the biggest monthly increase in the asking price for a decade. New sellers in February helped increase average asking prices by 4.1 per cent, the highest monthly increase since April 2002.

The average property asking price climbed to £233,252 in the month from £224,060 in January, according to the latest Rightmove House Price Index.

While the figures are being fuelled by the cash-rich sectors of the market, there is growing evidence of increasing housing market confidence, according to Miles Shipside, director at Rightmove.

"After four years of constant economic uncertainty, it seems some property consumers have accepted current market conditions as the new norm," he said. "We're seeing a strong 'spring bounce' in asking prices this year, but the ball is still a lot smaller than it was before the credit crunch as market volumes are constrained.

"The biggest jump in new sellers' asking prices for nearly 10 years indicates there is pricing power if you are selling the right type of property in the right place where enough potential buyers have access to funding."

The survey echoes upbeat news from estate agents last week that showed the number of house sales edged up last month as first-time buyers rushed to beat the end of the stamp duty holiday in March.

However, the research from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors showed estate agents reporting that house prices continued to drop.

Last week the Council of Mortgage Lenders said its members advanced 18,700 loans worth £2.3bn to potential new homeowners in December. The amount was 10 per cent higher than the previous month, again because of a rush by new buyers.

Despite the widespread property slump since the heights of the market in 2007, two areas in the country have actually experienced house price inflation in the past five years, according to a survey from Halifax published on Saturday.