House prices will show little movement this year, says the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.

It expects them to rise 3%, compared with 13% last year. If its predictions are correct, it would be the smallest increase in 10 years.

A spokesperson described recent sales activity as “lacklustre”. He said: “Interest rate rises in 2004 and the modest slowdown in the economy mean market conditions remain weak into early 2005.”

However, the RICS added that it did not expect a crash and that the economic climate looked good.

Housebuilder George Wimpey raised uncertainty among analysts when it made a trading statement to the Stock Exchange at the end of last month prior to announcing its full year results next month.

The statement said: “The lower selling rates in the second half have inevitably had some impact on both second-half volumes and the order book for 2005.”