LONDON Jan 16 Expectations of future rises in
British house prices strengthened again last month, driven by a
shortage of new homes on the market, a survey showed on
Thursday, although its headline price measure slipped.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said a
net balance of 61 percent of surveyors forecast prices would
rise over the next three months, up from 59 percent in November
and the strongest consensus since September 1999.
The survey showed house prices rose in every area of Britain
However, its main house price balance measure
eased to +56 in December from November's +58.
That undershot a Reuters poll consensus of +60 but still
concluded the first four-month stretch of above +50 readings
Britain's housing market has been bolstered by falling
unemployment, low interest rates and government programmes to
make mortgages cheaper and easier to obtain.
But RICS again warned the overall strength of its data also
reflects too few homes coming onto the market to meet demand.
Its sales-to-stock ratio for December, a measure of
tightness in the market, hit its highest since September 2007 -
around the start of a credit crunch that spawned the global
financial crisis. It rose to 35.2 from 34.6 percent in November,
which was revised up marginally.
"On the face of it, (the survey) seems like good news but
unless we see a marked increase in the number of homes coming up
for sale we could well be looking at price rises becoming
unsustainable in some areas," said Peter Bolton King, global
residential director at RICS.
Bank of England Governor Mark Carney on Wednesday forecast
British house prices are likely to continue to rise robustly
until the middle of next year, as part of a broader upturn in
housing market activity.
London and the south east of England experienced the biggest
house price gains in December, said RICS.
At a national level, house prices are still 5 percent below
that peak but critics of the government's policies say its Help
to Buy scheme is more likely to pump up house prices than spur
the building of more homes.
The slight fall in RICS' headline house price balance
matched a survey from mortgage lender Halifax last week, which
showed house prices dropped unexpectedly by 0.6 percent in