Rising interest from potential buyers coupled with falling numbers of sellers is stabilising UK house prices, according to surveyors.

New buyer inquiries increased for the seventh month in a row in May - at the fastest rate since 1999, said the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

But there were fewer sellers, continuing a trend of the last two years, the survey found.

The government's own figures reported a rise in prices from March to April.

Two surveys from prominent lenders recently reported an increase in house prices in May.

Survey

The Rics survey, which has been running since 1978, takes a snapshot of the degree of confidence in the market from surveyors and estate agents across the UK.

They reported that average sales were at their highest level since August last year.

However, at 11.8 properties sold per surveyor in the last three months, this remained 31% down on the same period a year earlier.

Rics members again suggested a further increase in potential new buyers window-shopping for property, most notably in Scotland, London and the south-east of England.

Alongside this, there were fewer people asking agents to sell their homes in May, which was also bolstering house prices.

"On the face of it, the housing market does appear to be close to bottoming out with activity picking up in a material way and prices at last stabilising," said Rics spokesman Ian Perry.

"However, it is important to remember that the lack of supply has been as important in underpinning prices as the rise in demand."

'Obstacles'

Some 11% more surveyors were now expecting property prices to fall rather than rise, the survey found. In addition, 40% more were predicting sales to increase than fall.

Yet, Mr Perry stressed that the troubled state of the economy could still constrain any housing market recovery.

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