RTTNews - U.K. house prices remained flat for the third month in a row in July, a survey conducted by Hometrack showed Monday.

The flat monthly reading helped to restrict the annual decline in July at 7.7% compared to 8.7% in June. Average cost of houses in England and Wales totaled GBP 155,600.

According to Hometrack, a lack of mortgage finance, low buyer confidence and rising fears of unemployment were offset by increased demand, a pick up in sales and a growing scarcity of housing for sale.

A broad based recovery needs to be founded on both an improving economic outlook and availability of mortgage finance, the Hometrack said.

The survey found that the percentage change in agreed sales increased in July to 6.6% from June's 6.4%. The percentage of the asking prices achieved by the sellers on an average stood at 91.5%, up from 91% in June. It took 9 weeks on an average to dispose the property versus 9.4 weeks last month.

As buyer activity remained strong on rising confidence that the market has passed the bottom, the property website Rightmove reported a 0.6% increase in house prices in July compared to a 0.4% fall in June. Elsewhere, data from the British Bankers' Association showed that the number of mortgage approvals, on a seasonally adjusted basis, rose to 35,235 in June from 31,919 in May. The June number is the highest since March 2008.

In the second quarter, the British economy shrank 0.8% sequentially, after falling 2.4% in the first three months of the year. GDP was down 5.6% in the second quarter, at a faster pace than the 4.9% recorded for the first three months of the year.

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