THE rise in Yorkshire's house prices slowed last month, new figures reveal today.

But the region continued to buck the national trend, as elsewhere in the country prices actually fell for the third month running.

The latest survey of England and Wales by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) found that in the Yorkshire and Humber region only 22 per cent more surveyors reported rising prices than those reporting falls, down from 40 per cent in March.

Nationally, during the three months up to April, 31 per cent more surveyors reported a fall in prices than reported a rise.

However, the RICS national forecast following the end of the Iraq war is upbeat. Surveyors in York and North Yorkshire also expect sales to pick up, although due to the busy spring market rather than underlying strength.

Edward Waterson, of Carter Jonas in York, said: "There is no longer a sense of urgency in the market. Most sales are taking significantly longer to complete. By and large, prices are stable."

Christopher Wilson, of Boulton and Cooper in Malton, said: "There is more property on the market. Sales are being achieved as long as asking prices are realistic."

John Haigh, of Oswald Lister and Haigh in Knaresborough, said: "There have been fewer inquiries over the last month. Potential purchasers are being cautious. The market will settle down over the next two months, going back to a healthy buying and selling environment."

RICS housing spokesman Jeremy Leaf said: "It's encouraging to see a return to confidence in the market. "Uncertainty has been the underlying cause behind the depressed figures of the last three months, but we expect stable sales conditions to return this summer and have forecast an average ten per cent rise in house prices in 2003.

"Broadly speaking the market still remains weak in the south and strongest in the north, but we have also recorded a marked increase in confidence in London."

Updated: 10:37 Tuesday, May 20, 2003