British house prices dipped further in the three months ending in February, but outlook for the year ahead picked up strongly, a survey showed on Tuesday.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors' seasonally adjusted house price balance declined to -6 from -4 in the three months to January, signalling broadly stable prices.
Economists had expected an improvement to -2 from January, when bad weather discouraged house hunters.
The non-seasonally adjusted balance measuring property professionals' forecasts for the change in prices over the next 12 months rose to +25 - the highest in three years - from +18 in January.
Moreover, house sales reached their highest level in more than 2-1/2 years, RICS said.
"The housing market now appears to be picking up across most parts of the UK," said Peter Bolton King, global residential director at RICS.
"This may, in part, be down to the growing availability of mortgage finance through schemes such as Funding for Lending," he added, referring to a central bank initiative that provides cheap funding to banks to encourage them to lend.
"However, even with activity running at its best level since the middle of 2010, it is still well down on its pre-crisis norm."
(Reporting by Olesya Dmitracova; editing by Ron Askew)