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A closely-watched gauge of British house prices struck its lowest level since 2012 during April, another sign of soft consumer demand ahead of a Bank of England interest rate decision on Thursday. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ (RICS) house price balance fell to -8 last month from zero in March, the weakest reading since November 2012 and dragged down again by London.

A Reuters poll of economists had pointed to a much smaller decline to -1.

New buyer enquiries and sales were broadly flat during the month, according to the survey of property valuers.

Overall, the report chimed with other signs of a muted housing market and it added to a run of downbeat data that means the BoE is likely to leave interest rates on hold when it announces its decision at 1100 GMT.

In London, nearly two-thirds of property surveyors said they saw prices fall rather than rise in April – the biggest proportion since February 2009, around the depths of Britain’s last recession.

Nearly a third of surveyors said they expected house prices nationally to be higher in a year’s time, RICS said.

Earlier this week mortgage lender Halifax reported a particularly sharp drop in house prices last month.

Respondents in the RICS survey had fairly flat expectations for sales over the next 12 months. Those in Scotland were the most upbeat.

Source: UK Reuters

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