Nationwide has reported a 1.6% rise in typical property values during August.

Over the previous three months, average prices jumped by 3.3%, the highest quarter-year rise since February 2007 (see the Free House Price Valuation guide to help value your home).

Experts are split on whether the current trend of rising prices will continue.

During 2009, prices are now down just 2.7%, but the mortgage lender stresses typical values are still 14.4% lower than the October 2007 peak. The average property price is now £160,224.

This is the fifth month out of the past six that Nationwide has reported a jump in house prices (see the MSE News 'House price crash is over' story).

Fellow lender Halifax's index revealed a 1.1% rise in July (see the MSE News Halifax house prices story), while the latest Land Registry index – often considered the most representative of the three indices – showed a 0.1% increase.

Outlook for house prices

Low levels of housing supply are generally considered the catalyst for rising prices. Nationwide hints that rising values should continue in the short-run but points out that the current trend is unlikely to be sustained at the same pace once interest rates rise.

It says the current historic low Base Rate – at 0.5% – is helping maintain the price increases, as those struggling with debt do not have to sell their homes, as many did during past recessions, because mortgage and other debt is now easier to manage for many (see the Cheap Mortgage Finding guide).

Base rate is not expected to rise for many months, according to analysts (see the MSE News Low interest rate story).

Martin Gahbauer, Nationwide's chief economist, says: "While low interest rates have played a part in reversing the downward pressure on prices, they are unlikely to stay at the current level forever. It is important to remember this when interpreting price trends.

"If the various monetary and fiscal stimulus measures introduced over the last year are successful in reviving sustained growth, inflationary pressures will eventually re-emerge and necessitate an increase in interest rates to normal levels.

"When this happens, it will probably have the effect of releasing additional supply onto the market and dampening the recent rise in buyer interest.

"Under such conditions, the strong price increases of recent months would become difficult to sustain."

Ray Boulger, from mortgage broker John Charcol, expects a 5% increase in house prices during 2009.

However, the Land Registry says its reported 0.1% rise "does not signal a return to growth, but rather flattening prices".

Further reading/Key links

Valuation loophole: Free house price valuation
Cut homeloan debt: Cheap Mortgage Finding
Latest house prices: Nationwide
MSE News (30.07.09) 'House price crash is over'
MSE News (12.08.09) Interest rates to stay low
MSE News (05.08.09) Halifax house prices up

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