House price 'boomlet' shows signs of cooling

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The Independent Online

Further evidence of a more sustained rise in house prices than any observer thought possible arrived yesterday with the latest figures form Halifax. The UK's biggest home lender said house prices rose by 0.6 per cent in January, the seventh consecutive increase, and broadly in line with the rising trend reported by other sources such as Nationwide and Rightmove.

Nationwide said last week that prices rose by 1.2 per cent in January. The year-on-year increase in house prices picked up to 8.6 per cent in January on the Nationwide's measure.

However, analysts also pointed out that the rise was the smallest since June, and suggested that what may have been a temporary boost in values due to a constriction in supply and opportunistic cash buying may be starting to wear off. While the supply of mortgage finance has improved since the nadirs seen in 2008, it is still far too low to support a sustained rise in prices.

According to Halifax, residential property prices are up 3.6 per cent on the same time last year, and the average British home is worth £169,777, from April's low of £154,490.

Howard Archer of Global Insight said: "We are sceptical that the marked rises in house prices can be sustained given a still far from favourable economic environment and tight credit conditions. We believe that a modest relapse in house prices is likely at some point in 2010. A relapse is even more likely to occur if more properties come on to the market as a result of the recent firming in prices."

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