House prices flat in December

LONDON Tue Jan 15, 2013 7:13am GMT

A woman walks past houses on a street in London March 13, 2012. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

A woman walks past houses on a street in London March 13, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Luke MacGregor

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LONDON (Reuters) - British house prices held steady last month and were tipped to pick up in coming months in the strongest survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors since mid-2010.

The RICS seasonally adjusted house price balance, published on Tuesday, rose to 0 in December from -9 in November, avoiding a negative reading for the first time since June 2010 and far better than forecasts for -8.

The balance measuring price expectations over the next three months also moved into positive territory for the first time since May 2010, rising to +1 from -5.

"It may be that we are now over the very worst," said RICS Global Residential Director Peter Bolton King.

"Confidence in the housing market does appear to be improving, helped in part by the impact of the Funding for Leading Scheme," he added, referring to a Bank of England scheme that provides cheap funding to banks to encourage them to lend.

RICS noted that the FLS contributed to a gradual reduction in interest rates on some mortgages, attracting buyers.

House prices were predicted to increase over the coming year as a whole, the survey of property professionals showed, with the institution's own forecast for 2013 putting price growth at 2 percent.

(Reporting by Olesya Dmitracova; editing by Patrick Graham)

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