AVERAGE asking prices for properties in London are higher now than they were a year ago, while the yearly decline for England and Wales was trimmed to 3.1 per cent, according to property website Rightmove.<br /><br />Rightmove figures show that the average asking price for a UK house rose by 0.6 per cent in July on the previous month to stand at £227,864, with London sellers demanding £402,761 on average, a 0.6 per cent increase on July last year. <br /><br />More regions are seeing monthly increases in average asking prices, with only three regions seeing a markdown compared to June: the North West, East Midlands and the South East. <br /><br />After a fall in prices in June, the modest increase in July suggests that we will see the UK housing market remain in a steady state during the second half of 2009, Rightmove said.<br /><br />Miles Shipside, Rightmove’s commercial director, said: “The shortage of new property coming to the market in popular areas in London is underpinning prices and cancelling out the negative effect of the job market and tight lending criteria.”<br /><br />But rising unemployment and tight credit conditions will still cap buyers’ budgets and constrain further upward moves in the housing market, while mortgage approvals are still at levels consistent with further falls in the housing market. June data for mortgage approvals will be released on Thursday. <br /><br />However, in the UK as a whole, the increased confidence and activity is tempting more sellers to test the market, as they seek to take advantage of the smaller price difference to trade up to a better home. The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors’ data that was released last week also showed rising buyer enquiries.