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ECONOMIST VIEWS: WHAT ARE THE PROSPECTS FOR THE UK HOUSING MARKET ?

<strong>NICK BATES </strong> MERRILL LYNCH<br />It has picked up over the past few months &ndash; you&rsquo;ve seen realised mortgage approvals picking up a bit from their troughs and there seem to be improvements in credit supply conditions, but supply is still relatively tight. It&rsquo;s a mixed housing market at the moment and overall, a lot of the indicators would be consistent with house prices falling but at a slower rate.<br /><br /><strong>HOWARD ARCHER </strong> IHS GLOBAL INSIGHT<br />Elevated and still rising unemployment, muted wage growth and an unwillingness of many people to commit to buying a house when they still have concerns about the outlook are all factors that are likely to continue to limit the upside for the housing market for some time to come. It continues to be very difficult for many people to get mortgages, particularly first time buyers.<br /><br /><strong>JAMES KNIGHTLEY </strong> ING<br />If you look at it on a valuations basis &ndash; prices to earnings and prices to rents &ndash; then that would still suggest we&rsquo;re about 15-20 per cent from being at fair value so we would need to see further falls. Mortgage approvals are picking up and the rate of decline is slowing so the worst case scenario of 20-30 per cent is looking less likely now. But I&rsquo;m staying cautious for now.