Bet on house prices and stay in the money

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The Independent Online

Prosperous home owners are being given the chance to protect themselves against a slump in the property market.

Prosperous home owners are being given the chance to protect themselves against a slump in the property market.

Blue Square, the internet betting company, has launched a new service that lets punters bet on whether house prices will go up or down. The odds are based on the performance of the market's two main indicators - drawn up every month by Nationwide and Halifax.

At present, Blue Square is offering odds of 6-4 against this month's average price being below £80,500; 15-8 against it being from £80,500 to £80,800, and 13-8 against it being above £80,800. The average figure for September turned out to be £80,672, according to a recent survey.

Blue Square is also planning to offer odds on the average London price, estimated to be £144,205, according to the latest research.

David Hill, head of financial betting at Blue Square, said: "If your wife works for an estate agent and the market looks good, you can come and take a bullish view with us."

It is expected that some of the City's newly enriched bankers will use the service to hedge against the soaring value of their metropolitan properties.

London house prices are traditionally strong at this time of year as the imminent payment of City bonuses tempts sellers to raise their prices. But a combination of the recent market turbulence and the losses thought to have been accrued by investment banks with a large exposure to the struggling telecoms sector, may cap this year's windfalls.

Blue Square is an offshoot of the money-broking empire built up by Michael Spencer, the chief executive of Garban-Intercapital. Its sister company is City Index, the spread-betting firm.

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