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News: Surveyors confident as prices hit 4-yr record

House prices rose at the fastest pace in more than four years in October with the lack of available housing continuing to drive the trend upwards, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said today.

The report from RICS said 48.1% more of its members reported a rise in prices than a fall during the month, up from 45.7% in August. This was more than double the long run average of 21%, RICS said.

Along with rising prices, there was also an increase in enquiries by new buyers. This is the 17th month in a row there has been an increase in inquiries - the longest run RICS has ever seen.

Confidence in sales amongst RICS members fell slightly but the expected interest rate rise in November did little to dampen optimism over price outlook.

RICS's spokesman Ian Perry said, "Even after last week's interest rate rise, surveyors are still confident that the housing market will remain buoyant."

According to the survey of members, London and the South East continued to lead the charge. House prices in the capital accelerated at the fastest pace since June 1999

But this revival is not good news for all, with the first rung on the property ladder moving further away from first-time buyers.

Mr Perry said, "London continues to see city bonuses inflate the housing market beyond the accessibility levels of most first-time buyers, and the rest of nation is showing early signs of building up momentum as prices pick up in the laggard markets of the midlands and northern England."

"But the market is unlikely to feel cold winds from high finance costs until mid year at the earliest as economic conditions are favourable," he added.

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