By Jonathan Davies

The number of homes up for sale in the UK is at its lowest point for a number of years, the Halifax has said.

The mortgage lender said the shortage of available homes combined with rising demand from prospective buyers is pushing prices higher than the growth of wages.

According to its own data, Halifax said prices were up 8.6% in May, compared with the same period last year. The average price for a home bought with a Halifax mortgage is now 196,067.

However there was some respite, with prices fallen 0.1% from April.

"The imbalance between supply and demand is likely to continue to push up house prices over the coming months," said Martin Ellis, housing economist at the Halifax.

"Looking further ahead, the increasing level of house prices in relation to earnings is expected to dampen house price growth."