By Daniel Hunter

The Halifax say that UK housing prices are 'broadly stable' despite a 2.2% rise in prices during March.

However, with prices having dropped 0.4% in February the fluctuations in prices have continued at the start of 2012.

The lender says the current very low level of sales means that prices are volatile from month to month.

The average house price is at the same level as in July 2011. The UK average price in March 2012, at £163,803, was almost identical to that in July 2011 (£163,765).

"House prices in the first quarter of 2012 were little changed compared with the final quarter of 2011, showing a decline of just 0.1%," Martin Ellis, housing economist, said.

"This was the same as the slight fall recorded between the third and fourth quarters of 2011. The underlying trend therefore indicates broad stability in UK house prices.

"The more volatile monthly figures continue to fluctuate as a result of the historically low level of sales volumes, increasing by 2.2% in March following February's 0.4% fall.

"Efforts by first-time buyers to beat the expiry of the stamp duty holiday at the end of March have probably increased sales in recent months and may have helped to support prices.

"We continue to expect little overall movement in prices this year provided that the UK economy does not suffer a pronounced weakening."

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