By Daniel Hunter

Further good news for the economy came today (Tuesday) in the shape of house prices continuing to rise, according to the latest Halifax survey.

Prices in the three months to July rose by 2.1% compared with the previous three months, the lender said, with prices up 0.9% in July itself.

The Halifax House Price Index showed prices in the three months to July were up 4.6% from a year earlier, the highest annual rate since August 2010. Sales also picked up, with transactions up 6% in the first half of the year.

"House prices in the three months to July were 2.1% higher than in the previous three months. This is similar to the rates of increase recorded throughout the first six months of 2013," Martin Ellis, housing economist, said.

"Prices in the three months to July were 4.6% higher than in the same three months last year, the highest annual rate since August 2010. Sales have also picked up with total purchase transactions for the first half of the year 6% higher than in the same period last year.

"Signs of improvement in the economy, underlined by the recent evidence of a rise in gross domestic product in Quarter 2 and increases in employment, appear to have boosted consumer confidence. Greater confidence is likely to have underpinned the increase in housing demand.

"Official schemes, such as the Funding for Lending Scheme and the Help to Buy equity loan scheme, may also be raising demand. House prices are expected to continue to rise gradually through this year with only modest economic growth and still falling real earnings constraining housing demand and activity."

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