House price growth has hit highest since 2010 says Halifax

House prices have increased at their fastest pace in almost three years as market activity intensifies, Halifax reported yesterday.

A 4.6 per cent annual rise recorded in July was the strongest uplift seen since August 2010, as greater consumer confidence boosted demand, it said.

Prices rose by 0.9 per cent month on month to reach £169,624 on average, marking the sixth monthly rise in a row.

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Halifax housing economist Martin Ellis said recent signs of improvement in the economy and increases in employment had helped consumer confidence, although activity was still being held back by the squeeze on household budgets.

He said: “House prices are expected to continue to rise gradually through this year, with only modest economic growth and still falling real earnings constraining housing demand and activity.”

Halifax’s report follows similar findings from Nationwide last week that the housing market revival is gathering pace.

Lenders, surveyors, estate agents and property websites have all been reporting a strong pick-up in activity following the launch of the Government’s Funding for Lending scheme, which has prompted a big increase in mortgage availability and mortgage providers to slash their rates.

Other initiatives called NewBuy and Help to Buy have been aimed at giving people with smaller deposits a leg up.

House sales in the first half of 2013 were six per cent up on the same period last year, according to HM Revenue and Customs.

However, Halifax’s figures also show the impact of the recent house price increases in terms of how far borrowers are having to stretch themselves.

House prices now stand at 4.62 times average earnings following some steady increases in recent months. This is still way below a peak of 5.83 times earnings recorded six years ago, having lifted from a trough of 4.34 in 2009.

Concerns have been raised that Help to Buy in particular, which will be fully launched next year and underwrite £130bn of low-deposit mortgage lending with state guarantees, must not lead to a property “bubble”.