UK house prices
Britain's home sales at 2.5-year high in February

House prices in the UK have relatively been unchanged in the three months ending in February, but sales rose to their highest level in over two and a half years, according to a survey.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) said that its seasonally adjusted house price balance declined to minus 6 from minus 4 in the three months to January, indicating broadly stable prices. Analysts expected the balance to improve to minus 2.

A negative figure indicates that more surveyors reported a price decline rather than an increase during the period.

Nevertheless, the non-seasonally adjusted balance measuring property professionals' forecasts for the change in prices over the next 12 months rose to the highest in three years at 25 from 18 in January.

In addition, home sales during the period were 17 per surveyor, according to Rics.

"It is encouraging to see that the housing market now appears to be picking up across most parts of the UK despite ongoing concerns about the health of the economy," said Peter Bolton King, global residential director at Rics.

"This may, in part, be down to the growing availability of mortgage finance through schemes such as Funding for Lending."

The Funding for Lending scheme launched by the Bank of England in August last year aims at encouraging lending by mortgage and loan providers. The number of mortgages on the market rose by about a third since the launch of the scheme, which provides cheap rates for borrowers.

However, the latest figures do not indicate a housing boom as the number of homes being sold at present in the UK is significantly less than the total seen in 2007 before the financial crisis.

"Even with activity running at its best level since the middle of 2010, it is still well down on its pre-crisis norm," King said.

Other surveys from mortgage lender Halifax, property analytics business Hometrack and building society Nationwide showed that house prices increased in February.