12 February 2008HOUSE prices went up by almost £1,000 in December as the property market staged a surprise rally.
Home owners faced with soaring bills were given much-needed cheer last night with the news that the average price of a house went up to £219,591, compared with £218,662 in November.
The rise of 0.4 per cent, after a 0.7 per cent fall the previous month, defies the “doomsayers” who had been predicting a big slump.
It was driven by increases for detached houses (1 per cent), terrace homes (0.6 per cent), flats (0.5 per cent) and semi-detached properties (0.2 per cent).
But a 2.3 per cent fall in the price of bungalows partially offset the rises.
Last week Britain’s biggest mortgage lender Halifax, which uses more recent data, also said house prices had held firm last month. The upbeat new Government figures were welcomed by housing experts who have been attempting to combat evidence of a slump in the market.
Karen Babington, director of Easier2Move, the largest online conveyancer, said: “These figures are great news and reflect what we have seen on the ground.
“While it is only a small increase, we hope this will show the tide is turning and return optimism to buyers.”
Stuart Law, chief executive of property investment company Assetz, said: “Here is yet another piece of evidence that property prices are firming up, ready for the annual spring rise, which flies in the face of doomsayers.
“There is plenty of hard evidence that the market is stable and, in fact, starting to grow again. There is no evidence of a house price crash whatsoever.”
There was more good news for home owners from the country’s second largest estate agency. Connells Survey & Valuation also reported rising prices and increased demand.
Values rose by 0.3 per cent in January and mortgage approvals rose 3 per cent to 75,300, the first increase since May and up from their December low of 73,000, according to the company’s latest data.
Ross Bowen, group managing director, said: “This increase reflects the slight improvement in mortgage demand and we’ve seen a rise in housing stock coming on to the market and renewed interest from house hunters.
“The mortgage market may finally be finding a floor after months of decline caused by higher interest rates, the reduced supply of credit and the lack of consumer confidence.
“The latest rate cut will help to stimulate demand, but only if mortgage lenders pass on lower rates to their customers.”
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