Sales volumes are lower than this time last year, but the persisting shortage of properties, especially at the top end of the market, means that good properties are in high demand, according to the latest market observations from Hamptons estate agents.

While there are 13% fewer buyers looking for houses than this time last year, there are also 20% fewer vendors, which is resulting in a stock shortage, Hamptons says.

The £1million+ country house market is especially healthy, most notably south of the M4: ?Sussex is a particular hotspot at the moment. We are experiencing particularly high levels of interest from both sellers and purchasers,? said Alastair Gravenstede, Hamptons Sussex Country Houses.

Hamptons? London House Department, which specialises in Central London properties over £2million, reported one of its best sales months for some time in March.

But, the estate agents said, this renewed activity in the capital is disseminating into neighbouring counties, and is set to spread further: ?The Cotswolds is currently experiencing a shortage of stock, as demand continues to outweigh supply; however we predict a change as Cotsolds trends are usually a month behind the Home Counties, which is currently very buoyant,? said Stephen Perks from the Hamptons Cotswolds office.

Hamptons also reports strong interest from potential buyers in Updown Court in Surrey, which, at £70million, is the most expensive property ever to be put on the market in the UK: ?Since its official launch in February we have had a fair number of enquiries from UK, Russian, Middle and Far Eastern billionaires,? said John Denney, Director of Hamptons Country Houses.