For the first time ever the survey noted that average house prices have topped six figures due to a rise of 1.6 per cent in January. The increase is the third successive strong increase snce September and is being hailed by some as a return to confidence following the terrorist attacks in September.
Gary Styles, head of group economics at Halifax, said: "The housing market in January has shown little sign of slowing from the strong growth seen at the end 2001. House prices have risen by over 6 per cent in the last 3 months and by 16.8 per cent in the last year. Although this largely reflects a bounce back in consumer confidence from the lows of the September terrorist attacks, supply shortages in the market are also contributing to higher house prices.
These figures fit very well with the recent data published on consumer confidence, consumer credit and mortgage growth. The UK consumer is continuing to borrow and spend against a background of a weak US and world economy. However, we continue to expect slowing UK economic growth and rising unemployment will result in an easing in house price inflation over the course of 2002."
House prices have risen 100 per cent since 1945, when the average price was £1,000, but since passing £50,000 in 1988 prices have doubled. Halifax noted that in the last three years house prices have increased by 37 per cent compared to retail prices which have risen less than 6 per cent.
However, the increases have not been even across the regions, and research from Halifax Estate Agents found that £100,000 can buy either a one-bedroomed flat in London or Edinburgh, a four-bedroomed detached house in West Yorkshire, a four-bedroomed executive home in County Down, Northern Ireland, or a three-bedroomed semi-detached house in the Midlands
There is an obvious North/South divide with the average price in the North at £61,700, compared to £175,900 in Greater London.
Martin Ellis, group economist at Halifax, said: "The housing market in the UK has reached another historic milestone, albeit one that is not shared by all the regions. £100,000 will buy you a wide spread of properties depending on where you want to live and work."