Government figures reveal that mortgage approvals are 20% higher than the long-term average

House prices in the UK have increased by 5.2% over the last last year according to new figures released today.

The Department for Communities and Local Government statistics suggest that an interest rate cut last August helped boost housing values.

House prices across the south of England have been rising for the past six months by around 4-6% although prices remain strongest in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The weakest markets have been recorded in the East and East Midlands where prices have grown at under 3%.

Mortgage figures are also on the up with the number of new mortgage approvals soaring to 120,000 in June 2006 with an average figure of around 115,000 per month. The historical average sits at just 100,000.