The average UK house price climbed above £150,000 for the first time in March, reaching £151,467, according to Halifax's house-price index.
House prices rose by 2.2 per cent last month following an increase of 1.7 per cent in February. The annual rise in prices is 18.5 per cent.
Halifax says the gap between the average house price in Greater London and the North has fallen by almost £10,000 over the past year.
Prices continued to rise most rapidly in the North and Wales in the first quarter of 2004. Prices were up by 9.7 per cent in the North-west, 9.4 per cent in the North, 8.3 per cent in Wales and Yorkshire and 8.1 per cent in Humberside.
Over the last 12 months, the smallest price rises were in the South-east (7.3 per cent), Greater London (9.1 per cent) and East Anglia (9.3 per cent).
Chief economist Martin Ellis says: “House prices rose by 2.2 per cent in March, broadly in line with the average increase during the previous three months, as strong demand and tight supply conditions continue to drive house prices up.”