House prices continue to rise
This was the fifth consecutive increase in this measure and was slightly higher than the 1.2% rise recorded last month.
Prices in the three months to April were 2.0% higher than in the same three months a year earlier. This was the fourth consecutive rise in this annual measure with a pick-up from 1.1% in March, to the highest rate of increase since September 2010 (2.6%).
The Index also showed that house prices increased by 1.1% in April. This followed rises of 0.5% in February and 0.4% in March.
The Halifax said, however, that while the number of mortgage approvals for house purchases increased by 3% between February and March, overall approvals in the first three months of 2013 were 1% lower than in the previous three months.
Commenting, Martin Ellis, Halifax housing economist, said: “House prices continue to pick up gradually. The relatively low level of mortgage payments in relation to income continues to provide support for the market.
“Market activity, however, remains subdued by historical standards with the number of mortgage approvals for house purchases – a leading indicator of completed house sales – easing slightly in the first quarter of 2013, according to the latest industry-wide figures.
“Weak income growth and continuing below-trend economic growth are likely to remain significant constraints on housing demand during the remainder of 2013.”
Jonathan Hopper, managing director, property search consultants Garrington, agreed, saying that sellers would need to be flexible on price.
“With strong annual, quarterly and monthly figures, the UK property market is once again heading in the right direction,” he said.
“The market is being driven not just by opportunistic buy-to-letters, but also by first-time buyers who are the key to more sustained growth.
“The Funding for Lending scheme has resulted in a greater availability of mortgages and is spurring many would-be first-time buyers into action.
“Despite the improved market, buyers are still looking for value, and committed sellers need to be willing to negotiate on price if they want to secure a quick sale.
“We’re definitely seeing stronger buyers coming to the market, not just people window shopping without any plans to buy in the short term.”