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UK house prices fall at fastest rate in 7 months: RICS

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British house prices dropped last month by the most since April, as uncertainty about Brexit and the election weighed on the property market, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said on Thursday.

[LONDON] British house prices dropped last month by the most since April, as uncertainty about Brexit and the election weighed on the property market, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said on Thursday.

The RICS survey - released on the day Britain votes in a national election intended to break a parliamentary deadlock over Brexit - showed home-buyers and sellers stuck on the sidelines.

The monthly house price balance declined to -12 in November, its lowest since April, from -5 in October.

The number of new buyers and sellers continued to fall - though the drop in sales seemed to be bottoming out and the proportion of surveyors who expected a rebound in activity over the next year rose to its highest since February 2017.

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"Whatever happens in the general election today, it is important that the new government provides reassurance both over the stewardship of the economy and the ongoing challenges around Brexit," RICS chief economist Simon Rubinsohn said.

Britain's housing market has slowed since June 2016's Brexit referendum. Prices have fallen in London and surrounding areas, where a rise in property purchase taxes bit hardest and concerns about Brexit were high.

Official data has shown that British house prices rose by 1.3 per cent in the year to September and a Reuters poll of economists has forecast a 1.5 per cent rise for 2020.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson intends to take Britain out of the European Union by Jan 31, if he wins Thursday's election. Most opposition parties have said they want a second referendum.

REUTERS