UK house prices will surpass their pre-financial crisis peak for the first time next year, amid signs of improvements in the mortgage market, economists have predicted.
Average prices this year are expected to edge up to £219,000 this year, marking a 0.8% increase compared with 2012, the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) said.
By 2014, a typical house in the UK will cost £223,000, a figure which is 0.7% higher than the 2007 peak.
The slow recovery will be welcome news to homeowners who bought around the peak of the market and have found themselves stuck with little or no equity in their home.
The forecaster said that house price growth will accelerate in the coming years as the economy gradually picks up. CEBR predicts that in five years' time a typical home will cost £261,000, representing an increase of almost a fifth (19.1%) compared with this year.
Daniel Solomon, CEBR economist and main author of the research, said: "Next year, UK property prices will hit a significant milestone, passing their pre-crisis peak for the first time. This will be driven by fundamentals, such as a return to modest economic growth."
House prices have remained sluggish in recent years, although experts have been surprised at the resilience of much of the market, given the wider difficulties of the economy.
Surveyors and lenders have predicted that house sales will pick up this year amid improvements to the mortgage market which have come about as a result of a multi-billion pound Government scheme which was launched in August to boost lending.
Lenders have been slashing their mortgage rates and the number of deals on the market has also increased since the scheme started. The Council of Mortgage Lenders recently reported an uplift in loans being advanced to first-time buyers and mortgage approvals to home buyers generally have been increasing in recent months.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors also recently suggested that the housing market could be over the worst of its problems.