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House prices up more than 5 per cent

The number of properties sold  for over £1 million rose 44 per cent

Latest figures from the Land Registry show house prices have risen 5.3 per cent in the last year. This puts the average property value in England and Wales at £170,000, although other price indices estimate a much higher figure, around the £250,000 mark.

The monthly increase from January to February was 0.7 per cent. Wales experienced the greatest monthly rise, up 1.6 per cent, while The North East saw the only annual price fall, of 1.3 per cent. Over the previous 12 months, London saw the greatest increases at 13.8 per cent.

During December 2013 the number of completed house sales in England and Wales  jumped by a third to 75,182 compared to December 2012. The number of properties sold  for over £1 million in December 2013 increased by 44 per cent to 898.

"Not only are prices rising under control but we’re seeing more home movers and new buyers coming to the market," said David Newnes, director of Your Move and Reeds Rains, part of LSL Property Services. "Housebuilders are starting to build more and construction is beginning to kick into gear. But still it’s this critical lack of homes which could yet scupper the final ascent to pre-crisis levels."

However, Campbell Robb, Shelter’s chief executive, commented: "Another rise in house prices is another rise in people left priced out, with thousands forced to watch their dream of a home of their own slip even further out of reach.

"With the government’s own figures predicting that house prices will continue to climb, and so many people already priced out no matter how hard they work or save, it’s time that the government start meeting people halfway by urgently addressing our shortage of affordable homes. To give hope to future generations the government needs to get serious about fixing the housing shortage, and commit to filling the gap between the homes we need and the homes we have."

Nicholas Ayre, managing director of homebuying agency Home Fusion, added: "The gulf in property prices across the UK grows ever bigger with London house prices hitting a new all-time high. There are growing fears that if we are not in bubble territory yet it won't be long before we are, with the Bank of England raising the alarm about borrowers over-extending themselves.

"The problem mortgage borrowers have is that they are competing against cash buyers who don't have the same affordability constraints."