Housing boom sees prices rise for six months in a row

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Demand from new home buyers hit record levels last month, according to a survey of estate agents today that provides the latest evidence of a mini-boom in the housing market.

House prices rose for the sixth month in a row in April, driven by a surge in prices of larger homes, Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) said.

Enquiries from new buyers rose for the eleventh month in a row, the longest period since at least 1998 when the survey began. The price increase was driven by demand for larger houses, outperforming flats for the first time for five years.

"The rise of house prices suggests a return of confidence to the market boosted by a healthy economic climate," Jeremy Leaf, Rics' housing spokesman, said. "Greater economic wealth has boosted prices for larger properties as buyers remain content to invest for the long-term, with a rising stock market not detracting interest in real estate."

Rics' survey of members found the number reporting a rise in prices last month outnumbered by 14 per cent those seeing a fall. Larger types of property outperformed flats in terms of price rises by the largest amount in five years. Homes built before 1960s, such as traditional Victorian terraced houses, led the way with the largest rises for almost two years.

Rics said the stock of homes on the market has fallen 10 per cent compared with a year ago, the largest drop since August 2004. Rics said there was a 17 per cent rise in sales activity which has squeezed potential buyers. It said the recent tick-up in unemployment had led to a "modest rise" in the number of property sellers, although relatively low levels of mortgage rates had helped maintain demand levels.

Meanwhile, government figures showed prices of homes jumped 2 per cent in March. The increase, which was driven by price rises across all types of property, pushed the average price of a home in the UK up to £186,519, according to the Department for Communities and Local Government.

Despite the strong monthly rise, the annual rate of house price growth eased slightly, falling to 3.3 per cent from 3.4 per cent the previous month.