Halifax expects stable house prices in 2013 following 1.3% rise in December

Bank reports six monthly rises and six decreases during 2012 as house prices remained little changed over course of year

House prices rose by an average 1.3% in December but are still likely to end 2013 at levels close to where they began, according to figures from Halifax.

The bank reported an average house price of £163,845 for the month, with the quarterly figure up for the first time in seven months amid signs of a firming in the housing market towards the end of 2012.

There were six monthly rises and six decreases during 2012 as underlying prices remained little changed over the course of the year, the bank added.

Halifax economist Martin Ellis said: “We expect continuing broad stability in house prices nationally in 2013, with prices likely to end the year at levels close to where they begin.”

Prices in the three months to December were 0.3% lower than in the last quarter of 2011, the smallest annual decline since May.

The jump in prices comes amid signs the Bank of England’s Funding for Lending scheme is having a positive impact on the availability of mortgages.

Approvals for lending to homebuyers climbed to a 10-month high in November, while the Bank’s recent credit conditions report forecast a significant increase in the availability of finance to households and borrowers this year.

The Halifax survey paints a more positive picture for December than that from rival lender Nationwide, which said prices had dropped by 0.1% over the month. However, across the year it reported prices were down by 1%.

The price difference can be explained by the different “average” homes used by the lenders in their calculations, by the different periods covered, and by the fact that Halifax calculates annual price changes using the averages over three months.

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