PROPERTY: Home sales may rise

Over the next few months, property sales may pick up slightly, buoyed by buyer interest stoked by dramatic price declines.

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Over the next few months, property sales may pick up slightly, buoyed by buyer interest stoked by dramatic price declines.

Over the next few months, property sales may pick up slightly, buoyed by buyer interest stoked by dramatic price declines.

So suggests the latest survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), which says tumbling house prices have begun to draw interest from potential buyers, especially those who already own a house or flat (it seems first-time buyers remain largely locked out of the market).

‘Interest from owner-occupiers is likely to persist over the coming months as those with large deposits look to capitalise on the drop in house prices,’ opined Simon Rubinsohn, RICS’s chief economist, though he adds that ‘by no means could this relatively small pick-up in transactions be seen as representing a move back to a more orderly housing market’. Rather, he thinks the market is likely to remain ‘relatively subdued’.

Another small glimmer of optimism came from property investment company Assetz, which says it has seen a 55 per cent surge in enquiries from overseas investors wishing to purchase UK property. Investors from across Europe and the Far East, especially Hong Kong, are being attracted by the weak pound and falling prices. Assetz says investors still recognise London in particular as one of the most desirable places to own property in the long term, and sees the imbalance between supply and demand as key to supporting an eventual recovery in prices.

But data continues to arrive that further confirms the continuing subsidence of house prices. According to a government survey, house prices fell by a full ten per cent in 2008. The statistics, from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) revealed that the average UK house price had fallen to £195,317 by December, a drop of £22,690 during the year.

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