British house prices rose faster than forecast in April, showing some signs of recovering from a slowdown in late 2014 on the back of low mortgage rates and strong economic growth.
This is according to new figures released by mortgage lender Halifax.
House prices rose by 1.6% in April from March, compared with a forecast of 0.4% in a Reuters poll. In the three months to April, house prices were 8.5% higher than a year earlier.
Both the monthly and the annual increases were the biggest since January.
However Halifax, which is part of Lloyds Banking Group ,Britain's biggest retail bank, said house price growth in the three months to April was slower than in the previous three-month period and likely to fall further.
"This measure of the underlying rate of house price growth fell for the first time in 2015 following three successive rises," Halifax's housing economist, Martin Ellis, said.
House prices in the three months to April rose by 2.2%, the smallest increase since January.
Ellis said he expected the annual rate of house price increases to slow to around 4% by the end of 2015, compared to a peak of 10% in 2014, as wages were rising more slowly than house prices, stretching affordability.
Rival mortgage lender Nationwide said last week that UK house prices in April rose at their fastest monthly pace since June last year, jumping 1% for an annual gain of 5.2%.
Bank of England data has shown a steady rise in mortgage approvals in recent months, suggesting Britain's housing marke tupturn is regaining strength after cooling last year when new rules for mortgage lending were introduced.