By Daniel Hunter

House prices in the three months to April were 1.3% higher than in the previous three months according to the latest Halifax House Price Index.

"House prices continue to pick up gradually. Prices in the three months to April 2013 were 1.3% higher than in the preceding three months, marking the fifth consecutive increase in house prices on this measure," Martin Ellis, housing economist, said.

"The relatively low level of mortgage payments in relation to income continues to provide support for the market.

"Market activity, however, remains subdued by historical standards with the number of mortgage approvals for house purchases — a leading indicator of completed house sales — easing slightly in the first quarter of 2013, according to the latest industry-wide figures.

"Weak income growth and continuing below-trend economic growth are likely to remain significant constraints on housing demand during the remainder of 2013."

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