Average UK house prices up 1.3pc
However the report also shows that property values dropped by 0.2% in December with Halifax warning that the outlook is “more unclear than usual”.
Martin Ellis, housing economist at Halifax, said: “The signs of improvement in the housing market towards the end of last year continued in January.
“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.”
However Ellis cautioned: “Subdued economic growth and pressures on household finances are expected to constrain housing demand.”
Ben Thompson, MD at Legal & General Mortgage Club, said: “These figures complement our research report into the ‘New Normal in the Housing Market’, which predicts the housing market will remain broadly flat until mid-2013, after which house prices should start to climb, reaching their 2007 peak of £227,000 by 2015.
“So whilst we are moving in the right direction, all indicators point to full recovery being a fairly long process.
“Although many lenders are now consciously improving lending criteria, which will in turn help to grow the market, this isn’t something that can be transformed overnight.
“In fact, analysis undertaken in the New Normal shows that between 2010 and 2019 house price growth is expected to be 25% – the weakest figure on record since the 1950s.”
Peter Rollings, CEO of estate agent Marsh & Parsons, is optimistic: “The housing market’s new-found momentum is far from unstoppable but there seems to be an increased optimism for prospective home buyers in 2013.
“Credit conditions look to be easing as the impact of Funding For Lending scheme hits home and the most encouraging fact of all is that it is finally starting push up first-time buyer numbers.
“If this trend continues we should see an increasing number of buyers able to enter the market and drive national house price growth from the bottom up.”