UK house prices are almost four per cent higher than they were a year ago, according to the latest industry data.
Figures compiled by Halifax for the monthly House Price Index reveal that annual house price growth was 3.8 per cent in the three months to February, compared to the same period last year.
A quarterly increase was also observed, with prices being 0.1 per cent higher than in the preceding three-month period. On a monthly basis, property values are almost unchanged, standing at £219,755 in March, compared with £219,839 in February.
Home sales consistent
Total UK home sales remain consistent with the previous month, with the data showing a marginal one per cent reduction in February, compared with January, with 103,910 transactions.
On an annual basis, the figure is largely consistent with 2016, being two per cent lower than in February last year. Despite this slight monthly decline, sales in the three months to February were six per cent higher than in the preceding three months, suggesting rising appetite among buyers and sellers alike.
The volume of mortgage approvals for house purchases, which is viewed as a leading indicator of completed house sales, saw a marginal one per cent fall between January and February, and now stands at 68,300.
Approvals have largely sat between 67,000 and 70,000 per month over the past five months, indicating that homes sales will likely maintain pace over the coming months.
Martin Ellis, Halifax housing economist, pointed out that the annual rate of house price growth has nearly halved over the past 12 months, with other economic pressures expected to curb house price growth during 2017, although growth is still expected to occur.
A key factor will be historically very low mortgage rates, which he says is likely to support house price levels over the coming months.
First-time buyer share
It follows the publication of Bank of England (BoE) figures which revealed that first-time buyers currently have a bigger share of the mortgage market than at any time since records began.
The official data shows that 22 per cent of all home loans granted in the third quarter of 2016 were to people buying their first house, which is the largest share tracked by the BoE since it began recording the data in 2007.
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