'Cautious optimism' for house prices in 2013

Holly Black

Strong sales in November meant that the average house price in England and Wales rose more than £7,000 for the year, an increase of 3.3%.

Although the monthly change in prices was just 0.2%, November saw 5% more transactions than a year ago, increasing hopes of a recovery in the market.

The average house price in England and Wales is now £226, 918, according to LSL Property Services and Acadametrics research.

A return to life Russell Quirk, found of online estate agent emoov.co.uk, believes "it is the beginning of a return to life" for the housing market. He says 2012 has seen some significant shifts that bode well for the coming year including the rate of mortgage approvals increasing and the amount of online property searches rising by as much as 20%.

Figures, however, are being skewed greatly by the higher level of activity seen in London. The capital has seen a rise of 8.4% in house prices over the past 12 months. In Wales the figure is -2.9%. And Dr Peter Williams, housing market specialist and chairman of Acadametrics, warns that with the 7% band of stamp duty introduced in March there has been downward pressure in London too, so the same levels of growth nationwide may not be seen next year.

David Brown, commercial director of LSL Property Services, thinks there is pressure on the success of the Funding for Lending scheme to stimulate activity, particularly at the lower end of the market.

Brown says the year has been a tale of two halves, with strong growth in the first half and the market "treading water" over the past five months, with prices still 2.1% below their 2008 peak.

"The year ends with a degree of cautious optimism for the housing market, although much depends on the future direction of the economy," says Williams.

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