Date Published 13 March 2013
The number of houses sold reached its highest level in over two-and-a-half years, with chartered surveyors selling an average of 16.8 homes per branch in the three months to February, says the latest RICS housing market survey.
The survey also reports that house prices are slightly down, with both inquiries from buyers and selling instructions flat. The RICS said it was `disappointing` that these had not improved since January.
Comments included in the report from around the country paint varying pictures, showing how localised conditions are.
In Southampton, one surveyor says: `The market is still difficult with a dearth of ready mortgages that take 4-6 weeks to get to offer stage. Even after offer, there are regular amendments to the terms/offer before exchange of contracts. This makes the process very uncertain and slow. Too many deals take too long and falter late in the process, doing damage to chains.`
In the North, a Doncaster agent says a `fairly significant part of the market remains in negative equity and this is perhaps resulting in a shortage of certain types of property coming on to the market`.
In Surrey, another surveyor blames `unhelpful press coverage surrounding the economy`, while in Nottingham another praises `more optimistic media coverage`. In the South-West region generally, there seems more confidence about improving conditions.
However, the survey says that surveyors are `cautiously optimistic` that the uplift in sales will continue.
Peter Bolton King, RICS global residential director, said: `It’s encouraging to see that the housing market now appears to be picking up across most parts of the UK despite ongoing concerns about the health of the economy.
`This may, in part, be down to the growing availability of mortgage finance through schemes such as Funding for Lending.
`However, even with activity running at its best level since the middle of 2010, it is still well down on its pre-crisis norm.`