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Increase in housing market activity

The housing market saw an increase in activity last month but the threat posed to the UK by the eurozone debt crisis and tough lending conditions will halt a significant recovery, a survey has warned.

More surveyors reported that newly agreed sales were on the rise rather than falling in October, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), following a fall the previous month.

RICS said some surveyors put the rise in sales down to a more "realistic" attitude among sellers, who are more willing to take offers to secure a sale.

But Ian Perry, RICS spokesman, warned: "With the chaotic events in the euro area threatening to spill over to the UK and banks still imposing tough conditions on loans to first time buyers, any recovery in sales is still likely to be relatively modest."

RICS said concern over how the eurozone debt crisis might affect the UK was restricting mortgage availability and resulting in caution from buyers.

Finance leaders in Europe are fighting to save the eurozone as countries such as Greece and Italy edge closer to defaulting on their debts - which could have severe aftershocks on the world economy.

Elsewhere, completed sales rose to an average of 15 per branch of surveyor over the past three months, which while muted represents the strongest level since April.

New buyer inquiries - a good indicator of buyer demand - edged up as well, while new instructions, an indicator of supply, also increased.

House prices remain in negative territory, RICS said, with more surveyors reporting a fall in prices in October than a rise.

The RICS survey continued to highlight the widening regional gap as London remains the only region where prices are rising while the rest of the UK, such as the East and West Midlands, Yorkshire & Humberside and East Anglia recorded falling prices.

Press Association

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