October 11, 2010 / 11:04 PM / 9 years ago

RICS house price index hits 16-month low in September

LONDON (Reuters) - House prices in England and Wales suffered their sharpest fall last month since May 2009, a survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors indicated on Tuesday.

The RICS house price index dropped to -36 in the three months to September from -32 in the three months to August, a drop the institution blamed on supply pressures as homeowners’ rushed to sell before painful public spending cuts kick in next year.

The new instructions balance rose to +22 from +12, the eighth consecutive positive reading, while the balance for new buyer inquiries remained negative at -2.

“The fresh influx of property to the market combined with a lack of buyers remains the key problem affecting the sector,” said RICS spokesperson Ian Perry.

British house prices dropped around 20 percent between late 2007 and early 2009 before recouping around half their losses over the following 12 months. Since early this summer there has been renewed weakness, with mortgage approvals and consumer confidence both declining.

Mortgage lender Halifax reported the sharpest drop in house prices on record in September, while rival lender Nationwide has reported price falls in two of the last three months.

The survey showed surveyors were braced for further losses. The price expectations balance slipped to -41 from -38, a fourth consecutive month of decline. (Reporting by Christina Fincher; Editing by Susan Fenton)

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