North-South divide in flat market for house prices

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The Independent Online

Property prices are set to fall later this year on the back of rising supply and weaker demand, but a continuing North-South divide saw them rise in the capital and fall across all other regions last month.

Hometrack's latest National Housing Survey published today shows that prices were unchanged in April, the first time since June 2010. But market activity will fall in the second half of the year as consumer confidence weakens, according to Richard Donnell, director of research at the property analysts. "The second half of 2011 is likely to emerge as a new phase where rising supply will constrain any further improvement in pricing levels," he said. "Weaker consumer confidence could also result in a slowdown in demand which would exacerbate the pressure on prices."

He said that a return of pent-up demand and reduced levels of supply have resulted in firmer pricing over the first few months of 2011. However, the likelihood is that supply will continue to grow over the coming months while the outlook for demand remains less than certain.

The latest flat-market conditions hide two different stories: rising prices in London and falls everywhere else. According to the survey, prices climbed 0.3 per cent London in April and slipped 0.3 per cent across all other regions. "The relative strength of the London market continues to put a gloss on the headline results," Mr Donnell said.

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