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Tuesday, 23 November, 1999, 13:00 GMT
Sign of housing slowdown
Buying a new home is still popular in the UK

Rising house prices and sales in the UK are starting to show signs of slowing down, according to a new survey.

Although large numbers of home-buyers are helping to keep the housing market buoyant, the pace has been less rapid recently, says the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

In the three months to October, 55% of UK chartered estate agents reported rising prices, down from 63% in September.

A note of moderation has entered into the market.
RICS housing market spokesman Ian Perry
And those witnessing price falls rose from 6% to 7% over the same period, according to the survey.

Also in those three months, residential sales started to moderate, although they are still sharply up on a year ago.

However, RICS says the slight drop in those reporting price rises is due to a seasonal lull and the underlying pace is only slightly below its summer peak.

It says interest rate rises have had little impact on the scramble for homes, as prices still rise.

But an acute shortage of new homes is restraining the market.

South slows, mortgage costs rise

Looking at regional trends, the survey found house price trends converged slightly as the market in the south slowed, while in the Midlands and the north there are few signs of a slowdown.

Prices are still rising in the north
Ian Perry, RICS housing market spokesman said: "A note of moderation has entered into the market, with chartered surveyors becoming cautious about prospects for sales and prices over the next three months, but the underlying trend is still firm despite this pre-Christmas slowdown.

"Given the robust state of the economy and demand from purchasers, our members are confident that the New Year housing market will remain undiminished."

The RICS survey comes three days after another report showed the cost of home ownership had fallen everywhere except London.

The Cheltenham & Gloucester said a mortgage costs 35 out of every 100 take-home pay in London.

And the lender dismissed parallels with the 1980s' housing boom.

Managing director Roger Burden said: "Although property transactions have hit their highest level in a decade, this only represents two-thirds of the level reached in 1988. Comparisons with the 1980s boom are therefore inaccurate and very misleading."

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See also:
02 Nov 99 |  Your Money
House prices 'booming'
22 Oct 99 |  The Economy
Houses selling in record time
19 Oct 99 |  The Economy
Housing boom to continue
30 Sep 99 |  The Economy
Housing boom marches on

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