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vital statistics

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The Nationwide Building Society has revised its forecast for house price increases this year from 6 per cent to 10 per cent, after finding the price of an average home had risen by 0.9 per cent last month - double the expected figure.

Meanwhile, rival Halifax said prices rose by 0.4 per cent during March to stand 16 per cent higher than a year ago.

But it predicted that price growth would ease during the second half of the year.

The property boom has helped the Duke of Westminster retain his place as Britain's richest person, according to the newSunday Times Rich List.The Duke, who owns a vast land estate including 120ha in London's Mayfair and Belgravia, saw his wealth increase from £4.4 billion in 2001 to £4.7 billion this year. Lord Sainsbury moves up a place to third from last year and Grand Prix baron Bernie Ecclestone stays in the top 10, although slipping from third to fifth.

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