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News: House price growth curbed over affordability

House prices rose for the sixteenth consecutive month in February but house price growth eased  to its slowest pace in nine months as the impact of three interest rate increases continued to worsen buyer affordability, surveyors have reported.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said its house price balance (% extra surveyors reporting rises than falls) fell to 24.0 in the three months to February from 28.0 in the three months to January.

The pace of increases remains only just above the long run average of 21.6 as supply conditions remain tight boosted by a strong economy.

Three interest rate hikes have begun to weigh heavily on buyer affordability. 19% more chartered surveyors reported a fall than a rise in new buyer enquiries down from 6 in January. New buyer enquiries are likely to weaken further in the coming months as January interest rates takes effect on the market

New instructions to sell property have gone nine months without a rise, the longest stretch in seven years. Households remain under little pressure to sell with the stock of unsold property on surveyor’s books falling to the lowest level since July 2004.

As a result, the ratio of completed sales compared to the stock of available property on the market rose to 47.0% the tightest market conditions since June 2004.

Strong house price growth was once again seen in London and the South of England fuelled by an ever booming financial services sector but there are signs of a modest slowdown.

In Scotland house prices increased at their fastest pace for several months while remaining robust in Northern Ireland. However, the picture in other parts of the country is much weaker with small price falls reported in the East Midlands.

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