Hometrack data shows first month of price stability after 20 months of falling values

House prices in England and Wales stayed the same from April to May, according to property data firm Hometrack - the first time the survey has shown no month-on-month fall in 20 months.

The figures from the housing analyst are not as positive as the 1.2% rise reported by Nationwide on Friday but will nonetheless bolster the view that the market is beginning to stabilise.

Hometrack said the steadiness in the average price, which stayed at £155,600, was caused by a rise in sales and a shortage of supply. It said the number of buyers registering with estate agents was up 21% in the three months to May while the number of new properties on the market only increased by 2.5%.

Sale boards
The steadiness in the average price was caused by a rise in sales and a shortage of supply

However, the firm warned it was too early to talk of a sustained recovery. Director of research Richard Donnell said: "Quite simply it is too early to rule out future price falls and the sensible money would be on further falls in the next 12 months.

"Given the weak outlook for the economy, house prices are expected to remain under downward pressure for the foreseeable future."

He added that overall levels of activity were still well down on “normal conditions” and willing purchasers returning to market were largely confined to wealthy areas of the country and limited to those buying with cash or low loan-to-value mortgages.