January prices inflate 1.3pc

At the other end of the spectrum prices in Yorkshire and the Humber fell by 1.5%, while they also fell by 0.2% in London and the North East.

House prices have risen by 6.7% annually, with the average property value in England and Wales standing at £179,492, down from November 2007’s peak of £181,101.

Stephen Smith, director of Legal & General Mortgage Club and Housing, said: “The housing market seems to have continued its forward momentum as prices are again on the rise.

“Homeowners may welcome this increase to their property’s value, but the fact is rapid house price growth is not beneficial in the long-term.

“To achieve a healthy and sustainable market, where families are not priced out of certain areas, house prices need to grow at a similar rate to inflation."

He added: “With demand for housing still strong, prices will continue to be pushed up unless we find a lasting solution.

“Put simply we need to build more houses.

“This issue is very topical at the moment and has firmly claimed its place on the political agenda as we run up to the election.”

On an annual basis London’s prices have increased by 12% - the greatest increase by region.

Guy Meacock, head of the London office for buying agency Prime Purchase, said: “Within the capital the picture varied considerably, highlighting the need to take any ‘average’ with a hefty pinch of salt.

“Kensington and Chelsea saw the greatest monthly fall of 1.9% while annual growth was the lowest of any London region at 7.2%.

“Meanwhile, Newham saw the highest annual price rise of a whopping 23.4%, showing that those areas which perhaps haven't performed so well in the past are doing a bit of catching up.

“After five years of strong house-price growth, there is plenty of uncertainty, with the forthcoming general election, possible mansion tax and an interest rate rise next year – all of these mean that the next six months is likely to be an improving market for buyers.”