House prices 'show biggest rise since June'

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THE housing market perked up in October with the biggest monthly rise since June, the Nationwide building society said yesterday.

House prices also registered their first year-on-year rise, of 1.7 per cent, since the society's monthly index began publication in 1990.

The 1.5 per cent increase in October followed a 1.8 per cent fall in September, when the market faltered, but this now seems to have been an aberration and the society said the latest figure was a continuation of the 'generally upward' trend seen through most of this year. October's increase, taking the average house price to pounds 53,932, was the seventh rise in the last eight months.

The annual increase was partly due to a sharp fall in prices a year ago, which flatters the comparison. But Brian Davis, the society's operations director, said it was also a sign of greater stability in the market. He added: 'Conditions for a more substantial recovery in activity remain in place, but the market remains muted, to some extent, perhaps, because of uncertainty ahead of the Budget'.

Nationwide's estate agency branches are reporting shortages of good quality houses at reasonable prices because sellers are delaying putting their houses on the market. But Mr Davis said the market should strengthen gradually provided consumer confidence continued to grow.

The Nationwide figures have been more erratic in recent months than those from the Halifax, the biggest building society, which reported a year-on-year rise of 1 per cent.