House prices set to surge in South

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THE HOUSING market in southern England is set to surge next year on the back of rising confidence, leaving the Midlands and the North behind, according to a report out today.

House prices in London, the South-east, East Anglia and the West Country will rise by about 6 per cent in 2000, Cambridge Econometrics said.

But prices in north-west England will rise just 3 per cent, the West Midlands 3.1 per cent and Yorkshire and Humberside 3.5 per cent.

UK house price inflation is forecast to reach 4.9 per cent in in 2000 after slipping to 4.6 per cent this year from 10.1 per cent in 1998.

Cambridge forecasts that house prices in the four areas of southern England will rise by about 5 per cent a year between now and 2010.

But this year will see a slowdown in price inflation and a fall in the number of transactions. "This reflects the impact of the general weakening in confidence associated with the expected poor performance of the economy during 1999," Cambridge said in its housing market report.

"Weak economic growth, rising unemployment and falling activity in the housing market will put less upward pressure on prices than in 1998." Housing market activity would fall by 2.5 per cent in 1999 after a decline of 6.5 per cent last year.

Cambridge said mortgage rates were still not low enough to stop the market succumbing to low economic confidence.