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UK home prices drop but market improving

AVERAGE asking prices for houses in the United Kingdom fell 0.4 percent during the five weeks to June 13, but were still up compared with January after a four-month run of increases, property Website Rightmove said yesterday.

The average asking price, which measures sellers' hopes rather than actual selling prices, was 6 percent higher than at the start of 2009, Rightmove said.

That figure echoes other recent signs of recovery in the housing market.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders said yesterday it had revised downward its forecast for home repossessions to 65,000 this year, a reduction of 10,000. The council said record low interest rates had eased pressure on mortgage payers.

The council said it expected net mortgage lending to fall by 5 billion pounds (US$8.2 billion) this year, compared to its earlier forecast of a 25 billion pound drop.

Halifax, the nation's biggest mortgage lender, earlier reported that house prices rose 2.6 percent in May, the biggest gain in two years. The Nationwide Building Society, the country's third-largest mortgage lender, pegged the rise at 1.2 percent in May, leaving prices 11.3 percent below year-ago levels.

Miles Shipside, commercial director of Rightmove, was cautious, saying: "While conditions are much improved on the darkest days of last year, we are now starting to see some big distortions and wild swings due to the combined effects of recession and restricted mortgage availability."


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