Signs of recovery for house prices showing signs of 1/27point

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Mounting evidence of a recovery in the housing market gained fresh impetus yesterday after figures from Halifax Building Society showed prices rose by 1.2 per cent in March, the biggest monthly gain in two years.

The rise, the eighth consecutive month in which prices have gone up, means the cost of a home is 1.7 per cent higher than a year ago, despite the collapse throughout much of last year. The society said yesterday: "We are continuing to forecast a rise of 2 per cent for the year as a whole, but clearly this will be reviewed if the pattern of recent months is sustained," the society added.

Gary Marsh, head of corporate affairs at the Halifax, warned, however, that there appeared to be a change in the seasonal pattern of house prices since the Budget was moved from March to November in 1993. Before that, house prices tended to rise from the end of March, but now prices appeared to increase much earlier, only to peter out as the year progressed.

The Halifax survey differed from that of Nationwide Building Society, which last week said prices were flat in March.