House Prices Continue To Rise

House prices and the number of property sales is rising according to the latest survey from the Halifax which refers to a 'modest upward trend'. Last month house prices rose by 0.5% and property values are 1.9% higher than they were three months ago. Halifax confirmed the average property cost at £163,600 and predicts a continued rise in 2013.

Halifax housing economist Martin Ellis acknowledged that rising employment has helped support the demand for housing, saying "This was the third successive increase in this measure of the underlying trend".

"This increase in both house prices and activity in recent months is consistent with evidence of some improvement in market conditions."

"The more than half-a-million increase in the number of people in employment over the past year is likely to have been a factor supporting housing demand."

Other lenders' recent reports have been less positive. The Nationwide Building Society reported last week that house prices had risen by 0.2% in February, but were unchanged from this time last year.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders recently reported that lending fell 3% between January 2012 and January 2013. However, the Council expected the Government's Funding for Lending Scheme to bring some improvement in activity in the coming months. The scheme has been credited for helping to reduce some mortgage rates.

The Bank of England reported a fall of £2.4bn in lending to individuals and businesses in the final quarter of 2012, but said the situation had improved significantly in January 2013.

Mark Harris, of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, still thinks mortgages need to be more accessible and stated that "while lenders are now cutting rates, most are still demanding big deposits for anyone wanting to take out a mortgage."

"We need to see some easing of criteria in order to make mortgages more accessible. This is surely the next move for lenders, many of whom tell us they have had enough of a rate war."

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