Home sales hit a three year high in March

The number of homes sold in the East reached a three year high during March as increased confidence in the market continued to translate into property sales, says the latest RICS housing market survey.

East of England chartered surveyors report an average of 18 home sales per surveyor over the previous three months, the highest number since November 2009. This indicates that confidence is slowly returning to the region’s housing market.

This increasing stability was mirrored by prices with fewer respondents in the East reporting negative prices during March. A net balance of ten percent more surveyors reported price falls, an improved reading from -51 per cent in February.

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Moving on to demand, an increasing number of prospective buyers in the region got out and viewed property during March.

A net balance of 29 per cent more surveyors reported rises in new buyer enquiries, the highest reading since May 2012. It seems that the government’s recent efforts to encourage banks to offer more affordable mortgages may now be starting the bear fruit and assist purchasers.

In line with this, the number of new instructions has risen for two consecutive months, following seven months of negative readings. 11 per cent more surveyors reported rises rather than falls in new instructions (up from two per cent), indicating that more sellers are willing to try the market.

At a regional level, the survey suggests that, on average, surveyors in the West Midlands have seen the biggest increase in homes sold since the start of the year, followed by those respondents working in the London area.

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Looking ahead, respondents are optimistic that the recent increase in transactions is set to continue. A net balance of 14 percent more surveyors expect sales to rise further over the coming three months (up from –22 per cent).

RICS East spokesman Robert Swiney said: “The inclement weather had a negative effect on sales, yet the market outlook is more positive than it has been some time.

“After an unpredictable six months we are now seeing greater stability in the market, no doubt affected by government support for first time buyers.

“It is heartening that new enquiries have reached an 11 month high and with future sales expectations in positive territory, we can only hope this translates into market buoyancy.”