Fresh signs of housing revival

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There was new evidence of the beginning of a recovery in the housing market from Halifax building society yesterday, writes Diane Coyle. It reported a 0.9 per cent increase in house prices last month. This was the seventh successive rise and the biggest for two years.

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.