The property market in December performed better than expected, although the market remains depressed according to the National Association of Estate Agents. They found the number of sales agreed per month remained the same as in November, rather than falling as expected in a usually quiet month, and also that the number of first-time buyers increased slightly (a number which has been rising since August) to make up an average of 10.8% of all buyers.

The average number of properties for sale rose from an average of 87 in November to 100 in December and a survey of members showed a slight rise in house prices between November and December.

Geoff Graham from the North East Branch said: ‘December is without doubt the quietest month of the year, but talking to agents throughout the region it appears that December was in some cases, not quite as bad as they were expecting.

‘It appears there have been some investors returning to the market, attracted by price reductions and some houses coming onto the market at competitive asking prices.’