House prices rose for the 17th consecutive month in March, with the pace of increase picking up for the first time in five months, according to today’s RICS report. It says 25.5% more surveyors reported a rise than a fall in house prices for March, up from 24.8% in February.

The pace of increase also looks healthy, remaining above the long run average of 21.6% which indicates that the housing market is still in rude health.

In addition, new instructions to sell property have risen for the first time in nine months, rebounding from the longest decline in seven years, found the report, although there are indications that national figures could have been skewed by unusually large increases regional instructions in the North West and the East Midlands.

There is also a severe stock shortage: the survey found that average stocks per surveyor sank from 62% to 60% from February to March – the largest annual fall since July 2005. The strongest house price growth again took place in Northern Ireland and Scotland, with London regaining the momentum it lost in February.

RICS spokesman, Jeremy Leaf, said: ‘The housing market has absorbed the initial interest rate barrage, but history tells us that further rate rises could knock confidence and activity significantly later in the year. However, house prices are unlikely to fall in the short term while the economic outlook remains robust.

‘Market conditions remain tighter than ever with households as yet under no pressure to sell, though mortgage repayments remain a concern for many following the Bank of England’s recent monetary tightening.’