While UK prices continue to stagnate, other European property markets are enjoying solid growth, a new report from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors has shown.

According to the findings, France, Spain and Ireland are at the top of the European property league, and all maintained double-digit house price inflation rates throughout 2004.

The UK?s property market slowed significantly during the second half of 2004. However, the declines were largely off set by the previous six months? growth, and so overall the UK?s property market grew faster than most of the rest of the continent over the whole year.

Several countries saw price increases between 5 and 8%, including Belgium, Italy, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Portugal. The only markets to suffer during 2004 were Austria, Hungary, Switzerland Germany and Greece, whose property prices remained relatively flat throughout the year.

RICS Chief Economist, Milan Khatri, said that the European market has been underpinned by strong lending as a result of low interest rates and competition within the mortgage industry.

However, Michael Ball, the author of the report, believes rates could still rise: ?Low interest rates are likely to continue to stimulate housing demand across Europe in the first half of 2005. Yet changes may occur towards the end of the year as pressures for increases in eurozone interest rates grow and new housing supply continues to come on stream in EU markets,? he said.