House sales 'reach three-year high'

For saleThe number of homes sold in the UK over the past three months reached its highest level for more than three years in May, surveyors have reported.

Figures also indicated property price rises were no longer confined to London and the South East as they began to spread across the country amid signs of "green shoots beginning to sprout" in the housing market.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said that on average its members each recorded 17.9 property sales over the period, the highest reading since January 2010.

Meanwhile, a balance of 35% more surveyors predicted that they would see more sales over the next three months, up from 26%. It was the highest reading since May 2009.
Demand was also up, with the balance of increased new buyer inquiries rising to 30%, the highest level since October 2009, in what RICS said was a sign that market confidence was gradually being restored.

Further figures showed the newly agreed sales index up to 30%, also a level not seen since 2009.

A balance of 5% of surveyors saw price increases rather than falls, with the upward trajectory spreading across the UK, with an average increase of 1.4% expected over the next 12 months.

There were still widespread variations across the country, with prices expected to go up 4.1% over the year in London compared to 0.2% in Yorkshire and Humberside. But surveyors in all regions were now expecting positive growth in the year, including 0.6% in the struggling Northern Ireland market. An overall balance of 20% forecast that prices would pick up.

Peter Bolton King, RICS global residential director, said: "Most encouraging of all is that stability is not confined purely to London and the South East, as has been the case, but is now starting to extend to areas right across the country.

"There is still a very long way to go until we see a full scale recovery but green shoots are beginning to sprout."

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