Market activity is looking up in early 2009, says the latest report from Hometrack although house prices have fallen by 0.8% while over the past year, prices have dropped 10% in total.

However, buyer registrations, sales agreed and new instructions all grew in February, reversing a downwards trend over recent months, the report points out. New buyer registrations rose by 17% while sales agreed increased by over a third, says the report. There was also an increase in the number of properties on the market which grew by 6.7%. Strongest demand was in the south of England, with London, the South East and the South West all showing evidence of more buyers starting to look for properties for sale.

This increase in activity seems broadly in line with what has taken place in recent years, Hometrack has found: ‘While the percentage increase in activity may appear relatively high the underlying transaction levels of market activity are around 60% lower than they were a year ago,’ said Richard Donnell from Hometrack. ‘as such this increase in market activity is off a very low base and falls well short of what could be classified as ‘green shoots of recovery’.

However there are some small signs of recovery in a few areas of the country, Mr Donnell pointed out: ‘Agents in parts of the country have reported that new properties, correctly priced, are going under offer relatively quickly – while others report multiple bids on homes, although this is the exception rather than the norm – the majority of buyers are still cautious.’

The report also found that many vendors are still seeking unrealistic prices from their properties, and says that a major turnaround in consumer confidence is required to kick-start the market properly.

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