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February 17, 2009    

Surveyors note rise in new buyer inquiries

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by Gill Montia
Surveyors note rise in new buyer inquiries

A new survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) shows a continued rise in the number of potential buyers in the UK housing market.

In February, the number of inquiries by new buyers increased for the third consecutive month, with lower prices proving to be the driving factor.

House prices have now fallen by around 20% since the market peaked in summer 2007 but earlier this month Halifax announced a 1.9% increase in the price of an average property.

According to the lender the average home increased in value to £163,966 in January, or £4,000 more than in December 2008.

Halifax did, however, urge caution over the rise, which surprised most analysts.

Neither is the Rics convinced that the findings of its February survey mark a long-term improvement in the UK property market because mortgage finance remains tight.

The body is therefore urging the government to make haste and provide guarantees for residential mortgage-backed securities, as recommended by the Crosby Report.

Rics chief economist Simon Rubinsohn does, however, suggest there is cause for some optimism, stating that: “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.”

According to Rics members, the majority of house hunters are homeowners seeking to upgrade to larger properties and interest in new build developments remains low.

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