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UK house price gauge improves for first time in 8 months - RICS

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By Reuters
UK house price gauge improves for first time in 8 months - RICS
FILE PHOTO: Property sold signs are seen on windows of a group of newly built houses in west London, Britain, November 23, 2017. REUTERS/Toby Melville   -   Copyright  Toby Melville(Reuters)

LONDON (Reuters) – A measure of British house prices improved for the first time since July but prices are still likely to fall in the coming months as Brexit weighs on the property market, according to a survey published on Thursday.

The Royal Institution for Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said its monthly house price balance edged up to -24 in March from -27 in February, which was the lowest reading since May 2011.

A Reuters poll of economists had pointed to a further fall to -30.

“Brexit remains a major drag on activity in the market with anecdotal evidence pointing to potential buyers being reluctant to commit in the face of the heightened sense of uncertainty,” RICS chief economist Simon Rubinsohn said.

Britain’s housing market has slowed since the June 2016 Brexit referendum although some recent indicators have suggested it might be bottoming out.

RICS said a measure of new buyers improved and surveyors were more positive about the long-term outlook, but the number of homes on the market fell for a fourth month in a row.

Rubinsohn said the trend for new residential starts was flat-lining as developers remained cautious, leaving little prospect of a big increase in home building to ease the shortage of properties on the market.

(Writing by William Schomberg, editing by Andy Bruce)