House prices up nearly 2%

New figures suggest the biggest rise since January 2010

House prices between November 2012 an January 2013 were 1.9 per cent higher than in the previous three months, according to the latest report from Halifax.

This was the second successive increase in prices and the biggest rise for three years since January 2010 (when it was 2.9 per cent). The prices were also up 1.3 per cent on the same period a year ago. The figures also indicate that house prices fell by 0.2 per cent in January, after successive rises in November and December.

Martin Ellis, Halifax housing economist, said: "Market activity has also improved with sales in 2012 at their highest for five years. Rising mortgage approval numbers point to further increases in home sales in the coming months. The Funding for Lending scheme has helped lenders to lower interest rates and improve availability in the past few months. This is likely to have been a factor contributing to the pick-up in both home sales and prices.

"The outlook for the UK economy and house prices, however, is more unclear than usual. Subdued economic growth and pressures on household finances are expected to constrain housing demand. Overall, we expect continuing broad stability in house prices nationally in 2013."

According to HMRC, the property market activity is at its highest for five years, with home sales up by 5 per cent in 2012 to 932,000, the highest annual total since 2007 (1,619,000). Bank of England figures also show that mortgage approvals - an important indicator of completed house sales -  rose for the fifth successive month in December by 3 per cent to 55,800.