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RICS says house prices rising

House prices rose for the first time in 15 months, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said today.
The group said the market slowdown appears to have come to an end, with enquiries from potential buyers rising consistently during the past six months.

At the same time it said the level of sales increased during November, while stocks of unsold property fell.

During the three months to the end of November, 4 per cent more chartered surveyors in Great Britain reported a rise in house prices, compared with those who said there had been falls.

This compared with 8 per cent more surveyors who reported seeing price falls during October.

The group said relatively low interest rates and a healthy job climate had helped to avoid the housing crashes that had followed previous slowdowns in the 1970s and 1990s, and surveyor confidence was currently at its highest level for 18 months.

RICS spokesman Ian Perry said: 'All the numbers point to

renewed price rises.

'There is a universal expectation from agents that interest rates are heading down again in the new year, which is providing the market with confidence.

'The biggest increases have been seen in London where City bonuses are expected to help the market along in the coming months.'

The group said it expected house prices to rise by 4 per cent during 2006, and by the same amount during 2007.

It said its prediction for a modest pick-up in house prices next year reflected the impact of August's interest rate cut, as well as a further 0.25 per cent reduction which it expects to be made during the first half of 2006.

At the same time it expects the number of properties changing hands to rise firmly during the coming 12 months, after falling during the past two years, with mortgage approvals rising from a five-year low of 1.13 million in 2005 to reach 1.34 million in 2006.

Prices rose in seven regions of the country during the three months to the end of November, with the largest gains seen in London, Wales and Scotland.

At the same time the level of enquiries from potential new buyers rose at its fastest rate for more than two years in the capital. Going forward, surveyors expect price rises to be strongest in southern England, led by London.

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