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Last Updated: Tuesday, 17 June, 2003, 23:37 GMT 00:37 UK
House price growth 'set to slow'
Sold sign
Is homeowner confidence misplaced?
Homeowners have been warned by one of Britain's biggest mortgage lenders that house price rises will slow in the coming year.

The Woolwich said that although there were signs of returning confidence, the fundamental weakness of the housing market could hit growth.

The bank concluded that economic woes such as slower income growth, lower bonus payments, and higher household taxes would impair the housing market.

But it said the end of the war in Iraq, combined with the market's traditionally busy spring season, had helped to lift sentiment recently.

Double digit over

More than half the 1,000 people surveyed in May by the Woolwich said that they expected prices to rise, a slight increase on the April figure.

Overall, the level of mortgage lending in May was estimated at 22.7bn, a 13% increase on the 20bn figure for April.

But the survey concluded that it was remortgaging that was driving the market rather than demand for new home loans.

Andy Gray, head of mortgages for the Woolwich said: "It is difficult to get away from the fact that double digit house price growth is unsustainable...this will have a moderating influence on people's expectation that the value of their home will continue to rise."

On Tuesday a survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) concluded that house prices across England and Wales had fallen for the fourth month in a row.

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