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House prices rising at fastest pace in six years, says Halifax

Prices rose by 1.1 per cent month on month to reach £174,910 on average

House prices surged by 7.7 per cent in November, signalling the fastest rate in six years, according to Halifax data.

Halifax said the jump in house prices was the biggest since October 2007, driven by surging demand in the property market and shortage of homes for potential buyers.

But the typical price is still 12 per cent below its 2007 peak, the latest housing market study said.

A new phase of the Government's flagship Help to Buy scheme was launched in October to give more people with low deposits a helping hand on to or up the housing ladder. The scheme offers state-backed loans to people with deposits as low as 5 per cent.

Meanwhile, the Funding for Lending scheme which has been credited with boosting mortgage availability generally is being re-directed away from households to help small businesses.

The number of mortgages on the market has increased by around 40 per cent since Funding for Lending was launched last year.

Yesterday, the Government announced plans for overseas property investors to have to pay the so-called "oligarch tax" when they sell UK properties under plans to cool London's overheated housing market.

Strong house price increases in the English capital have been put down to wealthy foreign investors looking for a safe haven to place their cash.

Martin Ellis, Halifax housing economist, said: "The annual rate of price increase rose again, with prices in the three months to November 7.7 per cent higher than in the same three months last year.

"Stronger demand, combined with an insufficient increase in housing supply, has resulted in increases in house prices accompanying higher activity this year.

"Low interest rates, improvements in consumer confidence and official schemes, such as Funding for Lending and Help to Buy, all appear to have boosted demand.

"However, continuing pressures on household finances, as earnings fail to keep pace with consumer price inflation, are expected to remain a constraint on the rate of growth of house prices."

Mr Ellis said recent signs of a revival in housebuilding should also help bring supply and demand into better balance and help to curb the upward pressure on prices.