The rate of growth in UK house prices stood at 7.6 per cent in the 12 months to February 2016, according to the latest report from the Office for National Statistics.
The figure marks a slight drop from the 7.9 per cent rise observed in the 12 months to January 2016, but a significant yearly rise was still observed and led by England, where growth stood at 8.2 per cent. In contrast, Scotland witnessed a 0.8 per cent fall over the same period.
On a regional basis, the North East continues to have the lowest annual growth, with prices increasing 1.4 per cent in the year to February 2016, but up from 0.9 per cent in the 12 months to January 2016.
On a seasonally adjusted basis, average house prices saw a 0.4 per cent monthly rise between January 2016 and February 2016, compared with an increase of 0.8 per cent in average prices during the same period a year earlier.
The average price for properties bought by first-time buyers increased by 8.0 per cent over the year to February 2016, up from an increase of 7.7 per cent in the year to January 2016, with the average price paid standing at £214,000.
The average price for properties bought by existing owners increased by 7.4 per cent in the year to February 2016, down from an increase of 8.0 per cent in the year to January 2016, with the average price paid standing at £336,000.
Overall, the UK average mix-adjusted house price in February 2016 stood at £284,000, according to Office for National Statistics calculations. Home values stood at £298,000 in England and £189,000 in Scotland.
When only new properties were taken into account, prices paid for new build homes in February increased by 9.3 per cent on average, compared with an increase of 8.3 per cent in the year to January 2016, with the average price standing at £281,000.
In contrast, prices paid for pre-owned homes increased by 7.5 per cent on average, compared with an increase of 7.9 per cent in the year to January 2016, to stand at an average of £284,000.
Commenting on the data, Rob Weaver from Property Partner said that significant demand is leading to rapid growth price growth for new homes and first-time buyers and he expects this to continue.
He added: “There’s a mood of uncertainty over the EU referendum in June, which may put a dampener on prices, but with demand across the board so strong and supply so weak, rock-bottom interest rates and a buoyant jobs market, prices look set to continue their upward trajectory towards the second half of the year.”
Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said that a combination of factors are contributing to increased interest and activity in the market.
He commented: “Cheap mortgage rates, a base rate that doesn't look as though it is rising any time soon and falling unemployment are giving buyers more confidence to take the plunge, assuming they can find the property they want to buy.”
It comes after recent data published in the Mortgage Advice Bureau’s National Mortgage Index showed that mortgage rates have fallen to their lowest level, with a record low observed in February.