House prices finish 2012 flat

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LONDON (ShareCast) - Average UK house prices finished last year flat and will probably repeat that performance in 2013, according to Halifax.

Its House Price Index showed house prices rose 1.3% month-on-month in December, following an increase of 1.6% in November (Xetra: A0Z24E - news) .

This was in marked contrast to four months of decline between July-October.

This meant house prices rose by 0.6% quarter-on-quarter in the fourth quarter of 2012, following drops of 0.4% quarter-on-quarter in both the third and second quarters, and a decline of 0.1% quarter-on-quarter in the first quarter.

When compared with the previous year, house prices were still down by 0.3% year-on-year in the three months to December.

The average UK house price stood at £163,845 in December, 2.8% below the last peak of £168,593 in April (Paris: FR0004037125 - news) 2010.

These figures compared with the Nationwide's latest monthly statistics, which showed across the UK average house prices fell by 0.1% in December.

Halifax's housing economist, Martin Ellis, said there was evidence of a firming in the housing market in the final few months of 2012.

"Prices in the three months from October to December were 0.6% higher than in the preceding three months.

"This was the first increase in this measure of the underlying trend for seven months.

"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," he said.

The figures follow others from the Bank of England, which showed mortgage approvals for house purchases rising for a fifth month running, reaching a 10-month high of 54,036 in November.

The Bank expects the recently launched Funding for Lending Scheme to significantly improve mortgage availability going forward.

MM