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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 October 2006, 08:32 GMT 09:32 UK
House prices 'still accelerating'
Estate agent's window in Richmond, London
Gazumping has come back in some parts of London, says Rics
House prices in the UK are rising at their fastest rate for four years, says the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics).

Five times as many Rics members said prices rose in September than reported falls, compared to a ratio of four times in August.

That made September the 11th month in a row that the Rics members have reported increasing house prices.

The survey also reported that gazumping has returned to parts of London.

According to Rics, prices across the UK are now going up at their fastest rate since October 2002.

It attributed this to the strength of the economy, continued demand from buyers and a shortage of properties for sale.

Rics spokesman Jeremy Leaf said he was surprised.

"At a time when interest rates have gone up you would have expected the property market to start cooling," he said.

"But in fact we have seen the reverse - a steady increase in prices and no real prospect of that changing."

Enquiries from would-be buyers have now risen for the 16th month in a row, the longest run on record.

Gazumping in London

The market in London is being driven by huge salaries and bonuses paid to staff in financial firms in the City.

"Prices are surging because demand far outstrips supply," said Rics member Charles Puxley of Carter Jonas.

"This is encouraging gazumping unfortunately, and many agents are grossly overvaluing properties."

The report is very much in line with other market surveys.

Both the Halifax and the Nationwide have reported that prices have risen steadily this year, while the high number of new mortgages being approved suggest that the market will stay buoyant in the coming months.

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