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UK house prices 'continue to rise'

The last three months have been good ones for the UK housing market, with prices continuing to rise.   New figures published in the Halifax House Price Index showed the value of residential properties in the country was up by 2.1 per cent in the three months between December last year and February, in comparison to the preceding period of September to November.   What's more, house prices in the three months to February were 7.9 per cent higher than they were in the same spell a year earlier, indicating the extent of the UK's housing market recovery in recent times.   House prices increased by 2.4 per cent in February, making it the 11th monthly rise in the last 12 months and emphasising the strength of the market. However, it should be noted that prices have still not returned to the peak of August 2007.   Stephen Noakes, mortgages director at Halifax, said it is good news that the value of property is now up both in the last three months and over the course of the last year.   "Several factors appear to have boosted demand, such as the improved economic outlook, unemployment falling faster than expected, improvements in consumer confidence and low interest rates," he stated.   A variety of market factors are also causing prices to rise, with these including a decline in the number of people putting homes on the market. One piece of good news for buyers is that the latest house building figures are positive, so supply could soon be more balanced with demand.   Mr Noakes went on to sound a note of warning, as he said the market is set to be kept in check by a variety of issues, such as poor household finances and earnings that are not keeping up with consumer price inflation.   Activity within the market is said to be on an upward trend at the moment, with the number of sales increasing for the ninth successive month in January. 

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