The latest analysis by the Nationwide of house prices suggests that this spring has brought with it an unexpected 0.9% bounce in the price of houses. This will add some more cheer to those currently enjoying the blue skies, sunshine and abundant blossom.

With so much to feel good about in spring, the temptation is to think that the past 18 months was a nightmare and now we are awakening from our unsettled slumber. I feel it myself.

There are undoubtedly positive signs to latch on to for house builders, sellers, estate agents and indeed Government in recent sets of figures.

And as we have all had drummed into us from watching action adventure films, it is always a relief to break a fall off a cliff, even if you are still left half way up hanging onto a twig.

The question is what meaning should be given to the Nationwide figures and others suggestive of a bounce in housing activity.

Are we half way down a cliff holding onto a twig, or have we managed to land on a solid ledge from which we can be rescued and spared a further plunge into the abyss?

Frankly on that one the jury is well and truly out. The forces at work currently are huge and conflicting. Little wonder that you can't get economists to agree on whether we will be in a deflationary or inflationary state in two years time. The answer to that debate has massive implications for the housing market.

But whatever the uncertainty, whatever the confusion over the relative scale of upside and downside risks, I suspect we will be seeing more headlines such as the one I read with some surprise after the announcement of the mortgage approval figures from the Telegraph which read "Britain's housing market reignited".

This headline would appear to say more about the parlous level of understanding of percentages among UK subeditors and the need to put rises and falls in a broader context than it does about the housing market.

We should expect over the next few months to see key signals bouncing between good and bad, or bad and good, depending on your perspective. This is partly because we are so far below normal levels of activity and also because the pain and the medicine administered within the economy has and will impact unevenly on the market.

Certainly for the time being with the Bank of England interest rate at emergency levels we have an improvement in the affordability of paying off a mortgage. This has been exaggerated for some who are on tracker mortgages paying piffling amounts.

Broadly this has meant that some sellers unable to attain the price they aspire to have been able to let their property. This has both reduced supply in the market and has meant that many potential forced sales have been averted.

Meanwhile low interest rates and a perception of low house prices will be tempting people to enter or re-enter the market.

How much these two factors have supported house prices is a matter of conjecture.

But looking forward there remain huge uncertainties.

The impact of unemployment has yet to be felt. And judging by one of the leading experts in the field, the Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee member David Blanchflower, we ain't seen nothin' yet.

But longer term the greatest uncertainty that will impact on house prices is the question of general inflation. If deflation takes root, debt grows and the likelihood is that house prices fall.

If we get high inflation, well interest rates rise and affordability is once again constrained.

It's probably a bit too early to call the bottom of the housing market, although I suspect many will be doing so over the next few months.

However, for the time being let's just settle our nerves while we can as the plunge into the abyss would appear to have been arrested, however temporarily, and consider how we get out of this mess.

For the more cynical I can highly recommend reading the suggestion received by Tom Howard.