Friday, November 19, 2004

More signs housing boom over (UK)


LONDON (Reuters) - Asking house prices in England and Wales have fallen for a fifth straight month in November, down 0.6 percent, research company Hometrack says, further evidence the housing boom is over.

The monthly fall was the same as that reported in October, which matched the biggest monthly fall in the survey since the slump in property prices after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

Hometrack said the average asking price now stood at 164,800 pounds. That is up just 2.4 percent on the 160,900 pounds it reported in November 2003 and is down 1.7 percent since hitting a peak in June this year of 167,700 pounds.

"With house prices now over 100 percent higher than five years ago, values have reached their peak given current levels of household income and interest rates," said John Wriglesworth, housing economist at Hometrack. "With the excess supply of unsold properties increasing, further house price falls are inevitable over the coming months."

The number of buyers registered with estate agents fell 6.1 percent after a 3.8 percent fall in the prior month.

Both the Halifax and the Nationwide indexes showed house prices fell in October, while the latest survey from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors showed the sharpest falls since the recession of the early 1990s.

Hometrack, which does not adjust its figures to account for seasonal patterns, said the average sale price as a percentage of asking price hit its lowest since the survey was launched in 1999, slipping to 93.1 percent from 93.7 percent.

The largest monthly falls were in London, where prices dropped 1.3 percent. Prices in the capital tend to lead property movements elsewhere in the country.


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