House prices show signs of a return to stability

EVIDENCE that the property market may be on the turn emerged today with a survey showing stability slowly returning to house prices.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said 65 per cent of its affiliated estate agents reported steady house prices over the past three months.

But while many buyers are taking advantage of cheap new home loans, the institution warned it was too early to talk of a general recovery in the market. Job insecurity and a belief that house prices may fall further were deterring potential buyers.

But a revival in activity which began at Christmas continued throughout January. First-time buyers were particularly active.

The market is still extremely price-sensitive, and the institute warned sellers that 'realistic' prices were essential to aid recovery. It asked the Government to help by doubling both the mortgage interest tax-relief ceiling and the stamp duty threshold to pounds 60,000 each.

Bryan Appleyard, page 25