By Daniel Hunter
The number of housing transactions continues to grow across the UK property market, says the latest Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) housing market survey.
During January, chartered surveyors across the country reported a further increase in the number of newly-agreed sales with a net balance of 15% more stating that levels rose. Transactions have now increased for four consecutive months.
In tandem with this, prices remained broadly stable during the first month of the year. Four per cent more respondents stated that prices fell rather than rose last month (from -1%), meaning that prices have remained fairly consistent from December. Along with other signs, this suggests that the very worst may be over for the market.
Despite this, demand from would-be purchasers has dipped slightly since the start of the New Year, with a net balance of 9% of surveyors suggesting that new buyer enquiries fell during January. This was also accompanied by a slight fall in the number of homes coming up for sale with surveyors suggesting that poor weather may have contributed to the softer figures.
Across the UK, prices remained in positive territory in London and the South East while also moving into positive territory in Wales for the first time since the early part of 2010.
Looking ahead, chartered surveyors are optimistic that the price stability seen in recent months will persist over the coming three months and, more significantly, they anticipate prices beginning to move a little higher as the year wears on. Meanwhile, future transaction levels are expected to remain on an upward trajectory.
"Price falls across the UK have gradually stemmed in recent months and it is interesting to see that the amount of completed transactions are on the rise, as confidence returns to the marketplace," Peter Bolton King, RICS Global Residential Director.
"While it is still very early days to talk about a comprehensive market recovery, activity levels are still encouraging and there is some optimism out there that things could continue to improve.
"That said, in many parts of the UK — such as London and the South East — high house prices and the lofty deposits required by many lenders continue to prevent many first time buyers from getting a foot on the ladder, which is preventing any significant movement at the lower end of the market."
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