House prices still rising but sellers return

SELLERS are slowly returning to the property market but confidence is underpinning further house price rises, according to a survey of estate agents published today. <br /><br />The latest monthly survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) showed that the net balance of surveyors reporting rising prices over the past three months surged to 34 per cent from 21 per cent in September, the highest net balance since December 2006. <br /><br />And activity levels are continuing to improve, albeit at a slower pace than in September with the net balance of surveyors reporting an increase in new buyer enquiries stood at 31 per cent in October, down from 35 per cent the previous month. <br /><br />For several months, rises have been supported by a lack of supply coming on to the market, but the survey showed the balance of agents reporting an increase in new instructions rose to 15 per cent in October from five per cent the previous month. &nbsp;<br /><br />The sales-to-stock ratio &ndash; a measure of market slack and a lead indicator of future prices &ndash; edged up in October for the eighth consecutive month. But the stock of unsold property on surveyors&rsquo; books was virtually unchanged at 64 for the third consecutive month, indicating that a shortage of supply was still limiting activity in the housing market. <br /><br />RICS spokesman Jeremy Leaf said: &ldquo;Although the supply of property is beginning to pick-up, it is still insufficient to keep pace with the increase in demand which points to further prices gains in the near term.&rdquo;<br /><br />Surveyors expect house prices to rising over the next three months, with 31 per cent expecting an increase, compared to 25 per cent in September. In England, Wales and Scotland, the expectation is for prices to keep rising with new buyer enquiries still positive.