House prices continued to fall in the three months to January, but surveyors became much less downbeat about prices for the coming months, a survey showed on Tuesday.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors' seasonally adjusted house price balance stood at -16 last month, unchanged from December, which was the highest reading since July 2010. The January reading beat economists' forecasts for a dip to -17.

London remained an outlier, with strong overall price rises.

The balance for house price expectations over the next three months jumped to -15, the highest since July 2011, from -23 in December. Far fewer surveyors predicted price falls in a year's time, with that balance rising to -4 from -19.

Many problems with the market still exist and the lack of affordable mortgage finance is still preventing many from getting onto the property ladder, said Michael Newey, RICS housing spokesman.

Prices are still falling across most parts of the country, but expectations for future prices have become less pessimistic.

(Reporting by Olesya Dmitracova; Editing by Susan Fenton)