Prices, averaging just under pounds 62,000, were 0.2 per cent above their level a year earlier. It was the first time since January 1995 that their annual rate of growth has been positive.
This follows a 1.4 per cent February increase in Nationwide's more volatile price index, published on Friday. It put the year-on-year increase at 0.9 per cent.
Halifax said: "The latest figure gives further support to our view that a recovery is now taking place." Experience at Halifax Estate Agencies also indicated that a recovery had started.
Halifax predicts a 2 per cent average price rise during 1996 and a 10 per cent increase in the number of housing transactions. The number of loans approved, a leading indicator of transactions, turned up in January.Reuse content