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16-11-04 10:29
House market decline slows

By LIZ PARKS


A lack of new buyers has contributed to a fall-off in housing market activity, with the number of sales down 25% over the past year, their lowest level in nine years. New enquiries fell for the sixth consecutive month according to the latest RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) survey of the UK housing market, published on Tuesday 16th November.

However the pace of decline has slowed though, reflecting a cautious optimism that interest rates have peaked.

Despite continued speculation over further falls, there is little evidence of panic selling. There are also encouraging signals from London where surveyors are reporting a levelling off in prices. Traditionally this market is a reliable indicator for emerging national trends and may be an early signal that declines are coming to an end.

RICS housing spokesperson Jeremy Leaf says:

‘Buyers are still nervous which is not surprising given the quick fire interest rate rises over the summer. This is clearly reflected in the current strength of the lettings market. Sellers are accepting valuers’ estimates more readily, and negotiations before a sale is agreed are harder.

‘Despite the gloom, the professionals on the ground believe that confidence will not deteriorate further over the coming months as the underlying factors, jobs and the wider economy, remain stable.’


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