The housing market had a quiet September, according to estate agents, who found stock levels at a high, with sales agreed and buyers on books both falling slightly year-on-year.

After a slight pick-up between July and August, according to the report from the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), September saw reduced activity. Higher than usual stock levels for one and two bedroom properties have yet to be matched with enough keen buyers, and this is causing problems for some regional markets, agents have stated.

At the other end of the scale, it seems that after a bout of new instructions prior to the second stage launch of Home Information Packs, there is now a shortage of new three and four bedroom properties coming onto the market.

Factors affecting this slower September include a combination of the interest rate rises, the ‘credit crunch’ and election indecision, as well as the introduction of HIPs, says the NAEA.

A potentially positive outcome of these elements has come to notice however: with the current excess of smaller properties on the market, there is potentially good news for first time buyers, who stand to gain from the increased supply.

NAEA President Stewart Lilly said: ‘The survey this month has been characterised by extremes, from unusually high stock levels to unusually low buyer levels. The market has certainly been considerably quieter than one might expect moving into Autumn and when you consider the major events that it has had to withstand recently, this is not surprising.

‘We all need to be prepared for a more difficult sales environment over the coming months. There are certainly no signs of a market crash, as is being suggested by some,’ he added.