New Survey Shows Decrease In House Prices

By: Steve Smith

House prices have continued to fall, a new set of figures has indicated.

In figures released by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics), 14.6 per cent more respondents reported there was a fall, rather than a rise, in house prices over the course of September - in comparison to the difference of 3.3 per cent recorded in August. Consequently, the institution revealed that the most recent data shows the fastest decline recorded since September 2005, in which 19.4 per cent more chartered surveyors pointed to a fall than a rise.

Meanwhile, 51 per cent more surveyors reported a fall than a rise in the level of new buyer enquiries as the impact of five interest rate rises since August 2006 and stricter mortgage lending criteria was shown to have put strain on consumers' ability to afford loan repayments. In addition, enquiries from such consumers have now fallen for ten consecutive months, the fastest pace witnessed for more than four years. Confidence in prices, on the other hand, have also reached a record bottom - currently at their lowest point for almost two and a half years.

However, Rics also pointed out that the economy "remains fundamentally sound" and demand for homes outweighs supply, which could mean that house prices could rise once more in the future.

Overall, the most pronounced property price falls were seen in Wales, East Anglia and the Midlands, with decreases also seen in Yorkshire, the south of England and the north-west. Conversely, Scotland has seen the strongest growth in house values over the course of last month, news which may be welcomed by those looking to withdraw equity from their homes to use as a means of secured loans in the region.

Jeremy Leaf, spokesperson for Rics, claimed that despite the drop in house values, recent economic conditions are seeing more people struggle to handle their finances. He said: "Although house prices continue to fall, the underlying economy remains strong. A major correction in the market seems unlikely while economic growth is above trend and employment conditions remain buoyant. The combination of rising interest rates, the introduction of home information packs and volatility in the financial markets resulting in tightening of lending criteria has certainly affected the confidence of buyers and sellers".

"As a result, some would-be buyers are turning to the rental market whereas others, conscious that the next move in interest rates is now likely to be down rather than up and market meltdown is highly improbable, are seizing the opportunity to negotiate with more flexible vendors in a less competitive marketplace."

For those already on the property ladder who are concerned about their ability to handle finances, opting for a competitively priced secured loan as a result of withdrawing equity may be a wise move. Earlier this year, research released by GE Money Home Lending revealed that house price inflation has surged by some 1,436 per cent over the last 30 years. However, Gerry Bell, head of mortgage marketing for the firm, asserted that the affordability of property continues to be a major issue for property buyers.

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