House prices in the three months to April were 1.3% higher than in the previous three months, according to the latest Halifax House Price Index.
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%).
House prices increased by 1.1% in April. This followed rises of 0.5% in February and 0.4% in March.
The number of mortgage approvals for house purchases – a leading indicator of completed house sales – increased by 3% between February and March following two successive monthly falls.
Overall, approvals in the first three months of 2013 were 1% lower than in the previous three months.
Martin Ellis, Halifax housing economist, said: “House prices continue to pick up gradually. Prices in the three months to April 2013 were 1.3% higher than in the preceding three months, marking the fifth consecutive increase in house prices on this measure. 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 Harris, director of mortgage broker Anderson Harris, added: “It is surprising that official figures from the Halifax show that mortgage approvals eased slightly in the first quarter of 2013 because that is absolutely not what we are seeing ‘on the ground’. Activity has been busier since the start of this year than at any time since the downturn, sending out the positive message that the situation is finally improving. It may take a while for this to feed through into the official numbers but the signs are encouraging: more people feel they can get a mortgage as Funding for Lending pushes down the cost of funding.
“As the scheme will now be extended until January 2015, we expect this positivity to continue, with more attractive rates available across the loan-to-value spectrum. This will make it increasingly easy for first-time buyers to get on the housing ladder, which is encouraging for the health of the market as a whole.”