House buyers become "cautious"

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The number of people enquiring about new homes fell for the ninth month in the row in August, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

The regulatory body's housing market survey also found that house prices fell for the first time since October 2005, fuelling speculation that people may have decided not to buy new homes because of concerns about rising mortgage repayments.

However, despite falls in prices in areas including the west Midlands, the north-west and East Anglia, London's house prices continued to increase.

Commenting on the research, RICS spokesman Ian Perry said: "Potential house buyers have become far more cautious as they wait and see what affect interest rate rises will have on household finances."

The RICS housing market survey is the UK's oldest monthly study of prices in the property market.

Its findings come at a testing time for the sector, after Abbey recently announced higher interest rates for its new mortgage customers. Standard Life is also expected to review its own rates in the next week.

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