House sellers' average asking prices have broken through the quarter of a million pounds milestone for the first time amid signs of a "widespread" upturn in the housing market.
The new record meant that new sellers coming to market were asking £252,798 on average in June, representing a 1.2% month-on-month increase on a previous record set in May, property website Rightmove said.
The rise will fuel concerns that Government efforts to kick-start the housing market could lead to a "property bubble", with mortgage borrowers trying to stretch their finances too far. Sellers' asking prices have risen every month so far during 2013, according to Rightmove.
A string of recent studies have reported signs of confidence returning to the market, including demand from would-be buyers strengthening and sellers becoming more confident about sticking to their asking prices.
There has also been evidence that first-time buyers are finding it easier to get access to a mortgage, with this sector currently making up more than two-fifths of loans to home buyers.
Rightmove, whose house price records go back to 2002, said that the South East has seen the strongest house price growth this year so far, with asking prices soaring by 15% or more than £42,000 typically since the start of the year to reach around £329,968.
Asking prices in London posted a new record high for the capital of £515,243 on average.
The relative strength of the London market is now rippling out to create a wider pick-up across England and Wales, the website said.
Prices in the Northern regions, the Midlands and Wales have risen by 9.2% over the first half-year, almost keeping pace with a 10.6% increase recorded in the South, suggesting a "wider and more sustainable recovery", according to Rightmove.
Miles Shipside, director of Rightmove, said: "The good news is that this indicates a wider upturn, albeit at historically low but increasing volumes. The bad news for would-be buyers is that it has helped propel the average price of a property coming to market through the quarter of a million quid milestone for the first time."
10 top ways to add value to your home
Seller asking prices hit new record
Of course with all these things, the value it adds depends on the property you have to start with, and the kinds of improvements you make, but Which? estimates the cost of a new kitchen at £8,000 and HSBC calculates the added value to your property at £4,500 - which is a clear loss.
This has been done by 41% of people in the last three years, and 29% of people plan it in the next three. It's cheaper than a kitchen, and Which? estimates the cost at £3,000. This is roughly the same value that HSBC says it will add to your property - so you'll break-even.
It may be difficult, but getting your property ready for sale means depersonalising it.
Clutter can distract viewers and more than half (60%) of the property valuers who took part in the 2012 HSBC Home Improvement Survey said that the number one way to increase a property's chance of selling quickly, and for a good price, was to de-clutter.
This has been installed by 31% of us in the last three years, and 15% plan it in the next three. Installing central heating is a disruptive job, and according to WhatPrice it will cost you around £3,235. However, this is the first of the top ten to actually pay off. Property expert Phil Spencer says it will add £5,000 to the value.
A quick splash of paint can work wonders on tired-looking walls, and sticking to neutral tones is the safest bet.
Keeping the colour scheme simple, fresh and inviting will help potential buyers to see themselves living in your home.
Some 18% have added one in the last three years, and 30% will in the next three. This is another huge job, but with more people struggling to move and deciding to improve instead, it's increasingly popular. The amount it costs will depend on an enormous number of things, from the area you have to work with, to the size of the extension. However, assuming you add a single room you could spend around £20,000. HSBC estimates it will add around £15,500 to the value of the property, so you are unlikely to gain as much as you spend.
According to Halifax valuers, loft conversions - which require lofts with a roof height of at least 2.4 metres - are a good way to increase the potential sale price of your home.
Be sure to stick to your budget, though. The average loft conversion will cost between £10,000 and £30,000, while HSBC's figures show that they typically add £20,876 to the value of a property.
Putting in new windows adds around £5,265 to the value of the average property and can reap big rewards when it comes to energy efficiency.
It is, however, sensible to ensure that your new windows are in line with the style of your property to maximise the added value - particularly as putting them in can set you back about £5,000.
Off road parking or a garage can be especially advantageous in areas where parked cars line both sides on the street.
Nationwide's figures show that adding a garage, which can cost anything between £8,000 and £25,000, can increase the value of your property by 11%.
Outside space is just as important as inside - especially when people are seeing your home for the first time.
While 63% of the HSBC survey expert respondents said that repainting or varnishing a front door would make a difference, only 23% of homeowners recognised this. Peter Dockar at HSBC said: "It is often the smaller jobs like painting the front door that can make all the difference when looking for a sale."