14 October 2008

U.K. Home Sales Fall to Three-Decade Low, RICS Says (Update1)

By Svenja O'Donnell

Oct. 14 (Bloomberg) -- U.K. home sales fell in September to the lowest level in at least three decades, led by London, as the financial crisis prompted price drops across the nation, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said.

Estate agents and surveyors sold an average of 11.5 homes in the quarter through last month, the least since the series began in 1978, RICS said in an e-mailed report today. In London, the figure was 8.3. The number of residential property agents and surveyors saying prices fell exceeded those reporting gains by 84, compared with 82 in August.

The global crisis sapped confidence among investors and consumers, pushed mortgage lending to the lowest since at least 1999 and sparked the worst weekly drop for the U.K. FTSE 100 benchmark stock index since 1987. Bank of England policy maker Andrew Sentance said yesterday that the economy may already be in a recession.

``London continues to occupy bottom place in the activity league'' for home sales, the report said. ``Further price falls in the near term are likely.''

Prices declined further in London, Wales, northern England, northwestern England and the East Midlands, and the price balance fell to the lowest on record in Scotland, RICS said.

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