The pace of the fall in house prices quickened during March, according to the latest survey from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

The Institute recorded its 8th consecutive fall in prices last month, with an increase in the number of surveyors reporting declines compared with February.

Sellers who are holding on to unrealistic prices and therefore restricting sales activity are to blame for the latest declines, RICS claims.

The early Easter and fears of further interest rate rises also contributed to slower activity, leading to fewer new purchase enquiries and stagnant agreed sales levels.

Regionally, the worst of the falls were experienced in the Midlands and Southern England with more moderate declines in the Northern regions. London, meanwhile, is enjoying stable conditions, while Scottish prices are continuing to rise.

With restrained market conditions, surveyors are anticipating further falls, but they are optimistic that sales will pick up, as RICS? housing market spokesman, Jeremy Leaf, explains: ?While there are no signs of a collapse, housing market activity showed little change in March, but we expect good job prospects and stable interest rates to lead to improved sales as the year progresses.?

Ed Stansfield, from Capital Economics, said that the falls are likely to continue: ?The outlook for interest rates is likely to remain in the balance for some time to come. But if the market remains as flat as the RICS survey suggests, then the pressure on sellers to accept lower offers will intensify. As a result, we expect measured house prices to grind lower over the remainder of this year and beyond.