[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 8 March 2007, 12:02 GMT
February house prices 'rose 1.8%'
UK house prices
UK house prices are still rising strongly, according to the country's biggest mortgage lender, the Halifax.

In its monthly survey, the Halifax reported that prices rose by 1.8% in February, keeping the annual rate of house price inflation at about 10%.

According to the Halifax, the average house price is now 192,233.

The Halifax said the annual rate of house price inflation remained unchanged in February, standing at a robust 9.9%.

All in all, the housing market has perhaps weakened a touch from the strength shown in late 2006, but not by much, and overall it remains buoyant
Nick Bate, Merrill Lynch

In the three months to the end of February UK house prices rose by 2.3%, still a substantial level of increase but only half the level seen during the previous three month period.

On Thursday, the Bank of England announced that UK interest rates will remain at 5.25%.

Lack of supply

February's figure is the strongest monthly rise recorded by the Halifax in UK house prices since last October.

"A shortage of both new and second hand properties available for sale has continued to push house prices up so far in 2007, particularly in London," said Martin Ellis, Halifax chief economist.

Nevertheless, Mr Ellis repeated his long-held assertion that house price inflation will slow significantly during the second half of 2007.

Higher interest rates and rising house prices, which make it extremely difficult for many would-be first-time buyers to enter the market, could dampen things down.

The number of new mortgage approvals - a key indicator of housing market activity - has been slowing of late, Mr Ellis noted.

In addition, the Royal Institution of Chartered (RICs) surveyors said last week that enquiries from potential homebuyers had fallen for the first time in two years.

But according to Nick Bate, economist at investment bank Merrill Lynch, the market is still showing signs of vigour.

"All in all, the housing market has perhaps weakened a touch from the strength shown in late 2006, but not by much, and overall it remains buoyant," Mr Bate said.




RELATED INTERNET LINKS
The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites



FEATURES, VIEWS, ANALYSIS
Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit

PRODUCTS & SERVICES

Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific