UK house prices seen rising

STRONG growth in buyer enquiries and price expectations improved to their highest level since April 2007, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) will reveal today.<br /><br />Their latest market survey showed that only 23 per cent of surveyors reported a fall in house prices over the last three months, taking the net balance to -9 per cent compared to -18 per cent in June.<br /><br />Price expectations are also improving with the net balance of surveyors expecting prices to increase over the next three months rising to eight per cent, while 29 per cent more surveyors expect sales to increase rather than decrease over the next quarter.<br /><br />New buyer enquiries have increased for nine consecutive months although the net balance of surveyors seeing an increase rather than a decrease in buyer interest was slightly lower than in June. <br /><br />There is also growing evidence that increased buyer interest is feeding through into transactions. Newly agreed sales on a net balance basis hit their highest level since August 1999.<br /><br />The RICS said: &ldquo;The improved optimism for prices can at least partly be attributed to the fact that increased interest from new buyers has not been matched by supply coming onto the market.<br /><br />But while the average stock of homes on surveyors&rsquo; books rose to 60.1 in July from 56.9, the average sales per surveyor also rose, which means that the sales-to-stock ratio inched higher to 25, indicating that the imbalance in stock levels is still providing support for prices.<br /><br />However, RICS spokesman Jeremy Leaf, warned: &ldquo;If mortgage availability remains insufficient to meet the increase in buyer demand, then it is possible that prices may slip back.&rdquo;