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Housing market set to return to pre-crash levels
Britain is poised for a housing market revival as the market gives its strongest performance since the crash, according to a leading economic forecaster.

More than 1m transactions will take place by the end of the year, representing the most activity since 2007 when there were nearly 1.8m, according to the Ernst & Young ITEM Club. The following year, the market dipped to a low of around 900,000.

After staying roughly flat this year, house prices will start to rise in tandem, up by 2.1pc in 2014, before rises of 5pc and 6pc over the following two years, according to its spring forecasts published on Monday.

The pick-up in the housing market will support the wider recovery, picking up some of the slack as exports fail to drive growth, the report argues.

That should help the UK stay in expansion mode, with growth of 0.6pc this year rising to 1.9pc in the next and to 2.5pc in 2015, it predicts.

Peter Spencer, ITEM’S chief economic adviser, said: “With export markets continuing to disappoint, the Chancellor has focused his firepower on the home front.

“Although it’s not a long-term strategy, stimulating the housing market and the high street will keep GDP growth positive.”

Measures in the Budget included an expansion of state-backed mortgage guarantee and shared equity schemes.

The high street should also see a boost as consumers start to feel slightly better off, ITEM predicts. The rise in personal income tax allowances – from £8,105 to £9,440 this month and to £10,000 next April – should add 0.4pc to disposable incomes over two years.

Figures out this week from the Office for National Statistics are expected to show headline inflation stayed above the Bank of England’s 2pc target at 2.8pc. Bank policymakers have allowed inflation to stray from the target in order not to dampen growth further by increasing interest rates.

Average inflation for 2013 as a whole will also be 2.8pc, according to ITEM, before the pace of price rises starts to drop back in coming years.

However, ITEM sees income growth finally overtaking inflation as employment levels hold up. As a result, someone earning the average salary of £23,000 could have an extra £280 by the end of the year.

None the less, the forecaster warned that exports will stay in the doldrums due to weak demand from Europe. Net trade is expected to subtract 0.2pc from gross domestic product in 2013, and again in 2014.

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