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Rate hikes 'not yet hitting housing market'

Recent increases in interest rates are yet to fully feed through to Britain's residential property market, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) has said.The Bank of England has raised rates to 5.5 per cent from 4.5 per cent 12 months ago in an attempt to combat strong upward inflationary pressures.Consumer price index (CPI) inflation is expected to fall back to the chancellor's two per cent target by the end of the year but economists have predicted the hikes will have a dampening effect on the UK housing market.Some analysts have attributed recent indications that house price growth is finally beginning to slow to hawkish behaviour from the monetary policy committee. Rics believes these effects are yet to make their impact felt."The full impact of current rate hikes on the housing market should not start to appear until after the summer," its briefing states."The current and expected strength of sterling may also moderate the economy looking ahead as the UK moves firmly into the lead as a higher yielding currency. Despite expectations of slower growth in the second half of the year six per cent interest rates are not looking such a distant prospect these days."Rics adds that the Bank of England's upward interest rate drive should be checked by "uncertainties" within the UK economy. It points to a gap between overall output increases and slowing employment growth, warning that failure to err on the side of caution while slack in the labour market remains doubtful could drive inflation forward still further.

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