House prices strengthened 1.3pc in December, although they are likely to remain broadly flat in 2013, according to the mortgage lender Halifax.
The average price of a house in December was £163,845, said Halifax, with the figure when measured on a quarterly basis up for the first time in seven months amid signs of a firming in housing market towards the end of 2012. Prices rose 0.6pc in the three months from October to December.
There were six monthly rises and six decreases during 2012 as underlying prices remained little changed over the course of last year, the bank added.
"Overall, last year saw an even mix of monthly rises and falls as prices lacked any real direction as both demand and supply pressures remained largely unchanged during 2012," said Martin Ellis, housing economist at Halifax.
"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 added.
However, the bank cautioned that the outlook for the economy and house prices remains "more unclear than usual".
"Subdued economic growth, sustained high unemployment and pressures on household finances will constrain housing demand," said Halifax.
"The relatively low level of mortgage payments in relation to income, however, should provide support for house prices."
The Government launched a multibillion-pound scheme at the start of August to boost lending, which has already caused mortgage availability to increase.
Figures from the Bank of England and the British Bankers' Association (BBA) have shown a recent pick-up in mortgage approvals to home buyers and the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) has said it expects the housing market to "feel more stable and positive" in 2013.