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U.K. House Prices Fall for Third Month Amid London Distractions

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Sept. 17 (Bloomberg) -- U.K. home sellers cut asking prices for a third month in September as the property market failed to cope with the “distractions” of the London Olympics, according to Rightmove Plc.

Average asking prices in England and Wales fell 0.6 percent after declining 2.4 percent in August, the operator of Britain’s biggest property website said in an e-mailed report in London today. From a year earlier, values were up 0.7 percent to an average 234,858 pounds ($381,000).

“Summer sellers have had some very stiff competition, not only from competing sellers chopping their prices but also from the Olympics extravaganza which has been more compelling for many than viewing property,” Miles Shipside, commercial director of Rightmove, said in the statement.

Mortgage lender Halifax said last week that the housing market is continuing to “tread water” as the economy struggles to recover from a recession and prospective buyers face a challenge in raising a deposit. It reported a 0.4 percent drop in prices in August, while the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said gauges continue to point to a “sluggish” property market.

Nationally, eight out of the 10 regions in England and Wales tracked by Rightmove posted monthly price drops. House prices in London rose 0.3 percent in September from August and were up 6.6 percent from a year earlier. Monthly gains in the capital were led by Enfield, Redbridge and Ealing. The biggest declines were in Kingston, Richmond and Islington.

In an analysis of national prices since the crisis at Northern Rock Plc five years ago, Rightmove said home prices were little changed. That compares with a 55 percent surge in values in the previous five years. Still, within the price “standstill” since 2007, Rightmove said the “winners” include homeowners in London, who have seen values surge 18.7 percent.

To contact the reporter on this story: Fergal O’Brien in London at fobrien@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Craig Stirling at cstirling1@bloomberg.net

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