UK house prices rise at fastest pace in three months - Halifax

LONDON Thu Feb 6, 2014 3:14am EST

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LONDON Feb 6 (Reuters) - British house prices showed their biggest monthly rise in three months in January, and the annual rate of house price inflation remained near a six-year high, mortgage lender Halifax reported on Thursday.

Halifax said house prices rose 1.1 percent in January after dropping by 0.5 percent the month before, roughly in line with economists' forecasts and the biggest rise since October.

House prices in the three months to January are 7.3 percent higher than a year earlier, a slightly slower rate of increase than December's 7.5 percent but still close to November's six-year high of 7.7 percent.

"Demand has increased against a background of low interest rates and higher consumer confidence underpinned by signs that the economy is recovering and unemployment falling faster than expected," said Halifax housing economist Martin Ellis.

"Official schemes, such as Help to Buy, also appear to have boosted housing demand. However, continuing pressures on household finances ... are expected to remain a constraint on the rate of growth of house prices," he added.

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