Numbers of would-be buyers are on the increase in the south of England, according to Knight Frank. Andrew Shirley, head of rural property research said: ‘Although it is too early to say that this marks the end of the market downturn it is positive news to start the year with.
 
A combination of factors is encouraging more people to consider making a purchase, says the report. House prices have fallen substantially as vendors have become more realistic, interest rates on cash deposits are risible and there are some attractive mortgage deals available for those with reasonable deposits. If anybody is thinking of buying, now is certainly the time to start looking.

* Country Houses for sale
 
‘Interestingly, we have seen the biggest increase in activity in the south of England. This suggests that those areas favoured by City workers, like the Home Counties, which were hit hardest by the banking collapse last year, are starting to recover first,’ added Mr Shirley.
 
Rupert Sweeting, head of Knight Frank’s Country Department said:  ‘Compared with the run-up to Christmas, there has been a transformation in activity since the start of the New Year.  We are seeing international buyers take advantage of the favourable Euro/ Sterling exchange that, together with the reduction in house prices, presents those buyers with opportunities to purchase a property 40% cheaper than last year.  

‘Furthermore, those who have sold property and have their money on deposit producing 6% or so are now getting no return.  Their interest was enabling them to rent a decent house, but that the rental is now eating into their capital.  Now they want to buy ‘bricks and mortars’ and many have told us they feel that it offers a better return than the stock market or banks.

‘No one rings the bell of the bottom or top of the market but it feels like there should be at least some chimes ringing out!’

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