Nationwide reports fifth monthly house price rise

HOUSE prices rose in July for the fifth successive month, according to statistics released yesterday by Nationwide Building Society, writes Maria Scott.

Its house price index shows the average price of houses rose 0.7 per cent to pounds 54,103 between June and July. This is still 2.4 per cent lower than the average price of a year ago, but prices have risen by 4.3 per cent since the end of 1992, according to Nationwide.

There are signs that the annual rate of decline is being stalled. Prices fell 3.5 per cent in the year to June, 5.5 per cent in the year to May and 5.8 per cent in the year to April.

Last month, Nationwide released figures showing a rise of 1.6 per cent for June which conflicted with a 1.1 per cent fall reported by the Halifax. Halifax's figures will be released tomorrow. Gary Marsh, housing economist at the Halifax, said: 'The overall picture is of a flat market.'

Nevertheless, he believed that there was a recovery, even if it was not manifested in sharply rising prices.

According to the National House- Building Council (NHBC), 645 new homes were sold each day during July, the same number as in June. This was an increase of about 30 per cent on sales last September, when these figures were first monitored. But the NHBC says recovery in the building industry is patchy and fragile.