Shortage drives house prices up 3.3 per cent in a month

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The Independent Online

A shortage of property for sale has sparked the sharpest rise in house prices for at least 18 months, according to a survey of estate agents published today.

The asking price for the average home jumped 3.3 per cent this month as buyers found themselves chasing after a shrinking number of properties.

Rightmove, a property website that measures prices of 65,000 homes a month, said the annual rate of house price inflation had risen for the first time in 10 months, to 9.8 per cent.

It said the rise was clearly attributable to an increase in buyer activity that was not matched by new instructions coming on to agents' books.

More than 35,000 more properties came off the market than hoisted a new "for sale" sign, while in London alone there was a shortfall of 6,300 properties.

"The survey shows a remarkable turnaround in the housing market, as dwindling stocks of houses for sale and a strong upswing in buyer interest feed through to higher asking prices in most areas," Rightmove said.

Miles Shipside, Rightmove's commercial director, said signs of renewed economic activity and stability in Bank of England base rates had encouraged buyers back into the market.

However, he said it was not a return to the boom conditions of last year. "We're seeing a seasonal autumn surge, partly driven by people who are house hunting now that their children are back at school and who would like to move before Christmas," Mr Shipside said.

Regionally, the biggest increase was in East Anglia where the asking price of the average home rose 6.5 per cent, or more than £10,000, to £173,103.

It was followed by the North of England, where prices rose 6.4 per cent, London, where they rose by 4.5 per cent, and South-east England on 2.8 per cent.

Within the capital, 10 of the 32 London boroughs suffered a fall in prices on the month, led by Kensington & Chelsea, where prices tumbled7.6 per cent.

The top performer was the City of Westminster, whose 6.9 per cent rise erased some of falls experienced over the past four months.