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'Pent -up' demand for homes.

HOUSE prices in Coventry fell slightly during January as agreed sales suffered their largest drop in six months.

The latest survey conducted by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has shown that buyer inquiries levelled out for the second consecutive month, but wouldbe purchasers returned to the market as confidence began to improve.

More than 60 per cent of chartered surveyors reported that prices stayed the same in January, while the number reporting a fall in prices rose to 28 per cent.

There was also a nine per cent increase in those reporting a price rise, to 11 per cent.

Confidence in market prospects is holding up well, with surveyors still expecting activity to rise further in the months to come.

Harvey Williams, RICS West Midlands spokesman, said: "Despite the slowdown in buyer inquiries last month, there is a swell of pentup demand driving the Coventry housing market forward during February.

"With improving economic conditions, we are seeing inquiry levels up by 11 per cent on this time last year.

"However, to really get the market moving, we need to see an increase in the number of sales to first-time buyers."

Mr Williams predicted that the Bank of England would eventually cut interest rates, a move that would strengthen consumer confidence in the housing market.

Nationally, house prices have risen for the third consecutive month. Buyer inquiries also increased and completed sales are up by 15 per cent compared to this time last year.

Consumer confidence has improved and mortgage interest rates have been heading down.

CAPTION(S):

PREDICTION... Harvey Williams
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Feb 21, 2006
Words:262
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