Competition is rising for a new home in the run up to Christmas, as the amount of residential property for sale continues to fall according to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.

Available property is now at the lowest level since June 2002, and the stock of unsold properties on agent’s book has fallen by 12% since August, the Institute has found.

RICS says the number of sales completed in the three months to November has hit the highest level since February this year, picking up from a very low period in the summer. The average number of property sales recorded by each agent surveyed was 31, and although expectations for future sales are strongest in London and East Anglia, prices are expected to rise overall next year.

Barring recession, or a major rise in interest rates, RICS is predicting a 15% rise in house prices for 2004.

RICS Housing Spokesperson, Ian Perry, said: ‘The slight interest rate rise in November, and talk of a rising trend doesn’t seem to have put off buyers or sellers.

‘Everyone seems confident that more property will come onto the market in the New Year, but intense competition will remain if this is accompanied by an increase in sales activity. In London agents are expecting more buyers following the New Year City bonuses.’