LONDON-Property prices in the “hot” residential market around London are taking a battering. New figures from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors show that, in the South-East of England, the difference between chartered surveyors reporting a fall in prices against those reporting a rise was 37%, up from 28% last month. In London 56% more chartered surveyors reported falls against those reporting rises. Last month that figure was 53%.

The northern regions of England, especially Yorkshire and Humberside were, by contrast, much steadier enjoying a slight rise. This reflects the more stable nature of the market, with 40% more surveyors in the region reporting rises than falls, up 4% from last month.

Nationally, the picture was one of a steady market with 2% more surveyors reporting a rise than a fall, slightly down from 5% last month. Many chartered surveyors are also reporting that buyer enquiries are beginning to pick up, giving increased confidence for future months.

The average number of sales per chartered surveyor estate agent remained steady at 37, up 1 from last month, while the average number of houses on the books rose by 2, to 75. This was up 6% on the same period last year. The sales to stocks ratio was steady, and remains close to its historical high.

RICS national housing spokesman, Ian Perry, said: ‘The market slowdown in the South East reflects the fact that the rate of rises earlier this year were unsustainable and buyers have become increasingly reluctant to pay the asking prices. This clearly shows that, at the moment, sellers have to price realistically to achieve sales.

‘But chartered surveyors are confident that the overall market will continue to be positive in the coming year. The prospect of a healthy economy and continued low interest rates, on top of strong signs of interest from potential buyers, suggest 2002 will continue the trend towards a more robust market, even though signs are that it will be subdued in the early part the new year.’

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