Country houses for sale

Lowest sales since 1978

Property sales in Britain slowed to the lowest level in at least three decades and the lending freeze pushed down prices for a 15th month, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Estate agents and surveyors sold an average of 10.9 homes in the quarter through October, the least since the series began in 1978, RICS said today. The percentage of agents saying prices fell exceeded those reporting gains by 82 points, an indicator that has been negative since August 2007. A separate report showed high street sales dropped for the first time in three years.

The Bank of England cut the benchmark interest rate to the lowest since 1955 last week to help the economy through the biggest slump since the early 1990s. The reduction prompted mortgage lenders to bow to pressure from politicians including the Prime Minister to lower borrowing costs for their customers.

‘Last week’s interest-rate cut should certainly help to support the market now that lenders have agreed to pass on the reduction,’ said Ian Perry, a spokesman for RICS. ‘Even so, the general lack of mortgage finance remains a major blockage in the housing market for a large majority of would-be buyers.’

Prices have continued to fall in all 12 regions monitored by the RICS survey.


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