House prices increased by 1.8 per cent in December compared with 1.1 per cent in November, according to Halifax's house price index.
Annual price inflation for 2003 was 15.4 per cent compared with 26.4 per cent in 2002. Halifax predicts that prices will increase by 8 per cent this year.
Prices in the North rose by 33.7 per cent in 2003, considerably more than gains of 14.6 per cent in East Anglia, 8.6 per cent in Greater London, 6.7 per cent in the South-west and 5.8 per cent in the South-east.
Halifax predicts that base rate will end the year at around 4.5 per cent.