In February, UK house prices experienced their first annual increase in over a year, signalling a rejuvenation in the housing market spurred by reduced borrowing costs.

Nationwide has reported that the average house price climbed to £260,420, marking a 0.7% rise from January and a 1.2% increase from the same time last year. This turnaround follows a year of stagnation, with the last growth seen in January 2023.

Despite this positive shift, house prices remain roughly 3% below the peak levels of summer 2022. Both buyers and sellers are becoming more active, with property website Zoopla predicting a 10% boost in home sales this year.

Further optimism comes from the Bank of England (BoE) reporting a spike in new mortgage approvals in January, marking the highest level seen since October 2022, although lending rates are still low by historical standards.

However, the outlook for the housing market remains cautious due to uncertainties around future interest rates. Swap rates, crucial for determining fixed-rate mortgage costs, have risen slightly after a significant drop in late December 2023. This increase, if it continues, could slow the housing market's recovery.

Despite these challenges, the BoE has maintained interest rates at 5.25%, with financial markets anticipating a slight decrease in the coming months.

Nationwide chief economist, Robert Gardner, said:

"The decline in borrowing costs around the turn of the year appears to have prompted an uptick in the housing market.

"While the squeeze on household budgets is easing, with wage growth now outstripping inflation by a healthy margin, it will take time to make up for the ground lost over the past few years, especially given consumer confidence remains fragile."

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