The price of homes in the United Kingdom rose for the first time in two years in August as a dearth of homes for sale pushed up prices in London and the southeast, according to a report released Monday.

The average cost of a home in England and Wales rose 0.1% from July, to $253,000, said Hometrack Ltd. of London.

The increase, the first since July 2007, left house prices 6.7% lower than a year earlier, the smallest annual decline in a year.

The report adds to signs that Britain is emerging from the sharpest recession in more than six decades. The slump has pushed house prices down 12% since the market's peak in September 2007 on Hometrack's measure.

"After seven consecutive months of rising demand, agents and surveyors now believe that prices can be pushed upwards without any detrimental impact on sales volumes," said Richard Donnell, Hometrack's director of research. "The headline figures are being skewed by price rises that are restricted to relatively small pockets of the market suffering from a lack of housing for sale."

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