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Thursday, June 17, 1999 Published at 23:23 GMT 00:23 UK

Business: The Economy

UK buyers 'swooping on homes'

Levels of activity are predicted to slow down later this year

The house market in the UK is hotting up, with a third of all new property on the market finding buyers within three weeks.

There is one simple reason for the housing stampede: Demand is outstripping supply. A report by Bradford and Bingley Estate Agents suggests that there are five buyers for every home on the market.

The BBC's Martin Shankleman: "The acute shortage of property is now worse in London and south east England"
The boom has led to a housing shortage, says the agency.

In the south-east, 11 people are looking to buy any given home on the market.

Agency managing director Davids Woodcock said: "We are now at the peak of the buying season.

"The market is buoyant and people are increasingly achieving the price they seek for their property.

Boom areas

"My advice to homeowners who are serious about moving is to put your home on the market at the same time you start looking for a new one.

"This will not only increase the number of homes available, but put you in a better position to proceed when you find a property of your choice."

The three fastest selling areas are Luton, Sutton and Loughton.

Other boom areas include Newmarket, Alton, Brighton, Portsmouth, the west end of Glasgow, East Kilbride and Ayr, according to the report.

New millennium

The Scottish housing market has also reached record levels, with homes selling three weeks more quickly than last year's average of 11 weeks.

Mr Woodcock said he predicted levels of activity would decline slightly during the second half of the year.

He said: "On the assumption interest rates will remain low for the forseeable future, we envisage the new millennium will have a positive effect on the housing market as people think of starting a new era in a new home."

The Department of the Environment is considering comments from the housing industry and trade bodies on a consultation paper designed to speed up the buying and selling of homes.

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