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Positive start for property prices

Halifax saw the most positive movement in house prices in January, with its index showing a 2.2 per cent increase over the month, up from a 2 per cent rise in December.

Halifax puts the average house price in January at £145,610, and says annual house price inflation stands at 16 per cent. General manager, group economics Shane O&#39Riordain says: “Interest rates are set to rise further this year, which will act as a brake on the market. The extent of the rise is, however, expected to be modest and will, therefore, cause few problems for the majority of homeowners.”

Rightmove was also upbeat, with a 1.2 per cent rise in prices in the first week of January. It puts annual house price inflation at 9.9 per cent, up from 9.6 per cent in December. It says there is strong interest from speculative buyers, with 984,000 visits to its website in the first week of the year, more than twice the weekly average of 483,000 in the first fortnight of December.

Commercial director Miles Shipside says: “The usual seasonal downturn in prices seems to have been very short-lived this year and the declines of December have virtually been wiped out by the strong surge over the past week or so.”

Nationwide says property prices rose by 0.7 per cent in January, less than half of the 1.5 per cent increase seen in December. It puts the average house price at £134,806, down from £135,444 in December, and says annual inflation is 14.3 per cent, down from 15.6 per cent in December.

Group economist Alex Bannister says: “January&#39s rise in property prices represents a slowdown compared with recent months and on an annualised basis is equivalent to 8.7 per cent growth. We expect price growth to ease over the first half of the year but it is too early to call with any certainty whether the housing market has yet moved into a phase of lower price inflation.”

Hometrack recorded the lowest growth in house prices in January at 0.3 per cent, putting the average price at £147,200 up from £146,800 in December. It says the North mostly saw the highest price rises but notes that no major region saw price falls despite January being a seasonally quiet month.

Housing economist John Wriglesworth says: “The year has started positively for the housing market, with no sign that last year&#39s interest rises have adversely affected consumer confidence. With banks and building societies continuing to relax their lending criteria by allowing higher income multiples, prospective purchasers can afford yet more expensive properties.”

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