By Daniel Hunter

The latest Halifax House Price Index shows that the UK housing market is continuing to show signs of improvement.

House prices rose by 0.5% in February, it said, with property values now 1.9% higher than a year ago. The average property now costs £163,600.

While the Halifax predicts prices will rise over 2013, it says weak economic growth and pressure on household incomes affect demand for housing.

The Halifax said house prices in the three months to February were up 1.9% from the previous quarter.

"The housing market continued to provide evidence of improvement in February. Prices in the three months to February were 1.9% higher than in the previous three months. This was the third successive increase in this measure of the underlying trend. Prices were also 1.9% higher than in the same period a year ago," Martin Ellis, housing economist, said.

"House sales also continue on a modest upward trend. This increase in both house prices and activity in recent months is consistent with evidence of some improvement in market conditions. The more than half a million increase in the number of people in employment over the past year is likely to have been a factor supporting housing demand.

"We expect to see a national increase in house prices over the course of 2013. Weak income growth and continuing below-trend economic growth, however, are likely to remain significant constraints on housing demand."

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