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U.K. House-Price Gauge Shows Best Result in Two Years, RICS Says

A U.K. house-price gauge showed the best result in more than two years last month as demand from buyers increased at its fastest pace since 2009, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said.

The index rose to minus 7 from minus 14 in September, London-based RICS said in an e-mailed report today, citing a monthly poll of property surveyors. A result below zero means more of them saw values drop than increase last month. A measure of enquiries from new buyers rose to 18 from 5, the fastest pace of gains since December 2009.

The report signals stabilization in the housing market after a quarter when the economy escaped from a recession. The Bank of England will release new forecasts for growth and inflation tomorrow after last week halting its 375 billion-pound ($595 billion) stimulus plan.

“The number of potential buyers going out and viewing property saw a welcome boost last month,” RICS spokesman Ian Perry said in the statement. “Overall activity is still very low in most parts of the country” and “access to affordable mortgage finance is still very difficult for many first-time buyers.”

A gauge of three-month price expectations rose to minus 3 from minus 9, the report showed. A gauge of newly agreed sales rose to 20, the highest since December 2009, from 0.

London and southeast England were the only two regions to record positive price balances, though only 28 percent of respondents reported rising prices in the capital, compared with 60 percent in March.

Other house-price reports have suggested a mixed picture of the property market. Acadametrics Ltd. said last week that house prices rose for the first time in five months in October, while a report by Halifax on Nov. 6 showed that home values fell for a fourth month in the same period.

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