Page last updated at 00:07 GMT, Tuesday, 9 March 2010

House prices: Rises may start to slow, surveyors say

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There are more properties coming up for sale, surveyors say

Further rises in house prices may be held back by more properties coming on to the market, surveyors have said.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) says new instructions outpaced inquiries from new buyers in February.

It was the second month in a row that this had happened.

The rise in house prices during the past year has been attributed by many commentators to a shortage of stock for sale.

Despite the suggestion that the balance between buyers and sellers may be changing, Rics still found more surveyors reporting rising prices than falling prices last month.

"There was a resumption of interest in the housing market following the fall that took place in January, which was due partly to the extreme weather conditions during that month and the reversion back to the previous stamp duty regime," said Rics spokesman Jeremy Leaf.

"The magnitude of the gains going forward is likely to continue to ease, reflecting the fact that new supply coming on to the market is starting to outstrip fresh demand."

Prices

Rics said it was the first time in two years that new sale instructions had outstripped inquiries from would-be buyers in a sustained manner.

The actual level of sales recorded by its members was still hampered last month by the knock-on effect of the cold weather.

As a result, the number of sales per Rics member remained at 1.4 per week.

"Surveyors still expect sales to increase, indicating that the recent drop in transactions is a reflection of recent adverse weather conditions," said Rics.

In the course of 2009 prices rose by 5%, according to the surveys published by two of the major mortgage lenders, the Halifax and the Nationwide.

Both reported a dip in prices in February, which they blamed on the recent very cold weather and on a rush by buyers to push their purchases through before the restoration of the old stamp duty threshold in December.

Rics suggested that this would be just temporary.

"Activity is expected to rise over the coming months after the recent lull with surveyors also anticipating that prices will continue to edge upwards," said Mr Leaf.



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