UK house prices
UK house prices fell at a slower rate in May according to a seasonally adjusted balance (Reuters)
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UK house prices fell at a slower rate in May, according to the latest survey of the housing market, with another UK recession, fresh fears over the eurozone's instability, and the end of a stamp duty holiday for first time buyers weighing on sales.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors' (RICS) seasonally adjusted house price balance rose to -16 from April's -19. Economists were forecasting -18.

"Ongoing economic instability in the UK and overseas has continued to undermine consumer confidence, and the reluctance of many banks to offer affordable mortgage products has created something of a stagnant market," RICS housing spokesman Peter Bolton King said.

"In spite of this, a gradual stability is returning to the market and surveyors expect transaction levels to increase over the coming months, even if prices continue to dip across most parts of the country."

Other housing market surveys, from mortgage lenders such as Halifax and Nationwide, also say house prices have declined across the year, though they point to stabilisation in May.

Towards late March a stamp duty holiday for first time buyers of properties worth under £250,000 ended.

Ahead of the deadline there was a surge in demand for properties as buyers rushed their transactions in order to benefit from the tax exemption.

As the deadline passed, demand fell sharply and the effects have followed on from April through to May, though are now dampening.

Britain is back in recession for the second time in four years, according to GDP figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

There were two consecutive quarterly contractions of -0.3 percent, from the last three months of the year in 2011 to the start of 2012.

As a result of this recession and concerns that the eurozone, which is having to bail out Spanish banks and may have to give yet billions more euros to Ireland, faces an inevitable and catastrophic break-up which would send a shockwave through the UK, consumer confidence is low.

A high cost of living, stagnant wages, and high unemployment are causing households to be strict with their budgets and this squeeze makes selling and buying homes unattractive.