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&#39Biggest surge since 1980s&#39

Nationwide says 2002 saw the biggest surge in house sales and prices since

the late 1980s&#39 boom but the society warns of a deterioration this year.

It says the belief that low interest rates are here to stay is encouraging

people to borrow and remortgage. Despite predicting a downturn in London

due to affordability, Nationwide says overall prices will rise by 10 per

cent over the year compared with 25 per cent last year.

But the society says its predictions depend on sentiment, which could be

adversely affected by interest rate increases. It believes interest rates

will rise to 4.75 per cent by the end of the year.

Nationwide group economist Alex Bannister says: “Certain hotspots, and

particularly parts of London, where affordability is stretched and where

employment, income and confidence are deteriorating, may experience price

declines. However, we do not expect generalised sustained price falls.”

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