UK property prices continued their upward trend in January as first-time buyers returned to the housing market, according to Hometrack.
Latest figures by the estate agency group suggest prices rose by 0.3% in January despite the month being a seasonally quiet one.
The average property now stands at £147,200 – forcing prospective buyers to reach for another £400 compared with previous month.
John Wriglesworth, housing economist at Hometrack, says: "The year has started positively for the housing market, with no sign that last year’s interest rises have adversely affected consumer confidence."
Last month's rise was partly boosted by the numbers of first-time buyers entering the housing market - a trend which Hometrack believes will continue to drive prices in 2004.
"Our estate agents all over the country are reporting significant increases in new buyer interest, which we expect to feed through to yet higher monthly house price rises nationwide in the coming months," adds Wriglesworth.
Regionally, the north-south differentiation seen throughout 2003 continued in January with house prices in the northern parts of the UK rising at twice the rate of the south.
Wriglesworth continues: "The north continues to outpace the south with northern regions typically experiencing house price rises at twice the rate of the south. However all regions are picking up."
The biggest price rises were seen in Cornwall and South Yorkshire, which both experienced a 1.1% rise.
However, some parts of the country did see prices drop over the month as Central London & City and East Sussex both saw prices fall by 0.1%.IFAonline
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