October spelt all round improvement in the housing market, according to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors? most recent survey. Buyer enquiries, newly agreed sales and completed sales all increased in October, suggesting that August?s interest rate cut has succeeded in restoring confidence.

The balance of surveyors reporting a rise in new buyer enquiries rose for the fifth consecutive month and, at 24%, set a new two year high. With 67% more buyers registering in London than a year ago and an escalated number of viewings across the country, Hamptons International supports this.

Newly agreed sales have also risen according to RICS but completed sales remain relatively subdued. Despite seeing a rise of just 2% in exchanges across the country network, Hamptons reveals that in London far fewer deals are falling through with an increase of 40% in actual exchanges. Other agents have seen a similar picture: ?It is clear buyers are still cautious yet very reactive to property price reductions indicating a price sensitive market. This is not surprising off the back of a tough period for the housing market but there does seem to be renewed confidence and optimism seeping through,? explains Peter Edwards of Knight Frank Country House Department.

?October has seen a continuation of the conditions we saw in the late summer, with a 6% increase in instructions to sell period country houses in their own land? reports John Denney, Sales Director of Hamptons? Country House department. ?Activity in our market – the £1.2m and upwards bracket – is steady.? Savills supports this claim, suggesting that the Country House market will continue to improve next year: ‘We expect prime markets to outperform mainstream markets in all regions in 2006,’ says Jim Ward, Director of Research at Savills.

But the market still has some way to go before full confidence is restored. Price falls were noted by RICS in the Midlands and Yorkshire and the last time prices rose in London was May 2004. The newly agreed sales balance in London was negative for the second consecutive month suggesting that, even in London, there has yet to be a firm rebound.

Vendors are still reluctant to come to the market, with agents reporting that new instructions are still down on last year. Hamptons claims its stock in the country regions is down by 22%, jeopardising new buyer activity. Mr. Edwards said: ?With a constant steam of new enquiries it is absolutely necessary for confidence to be restored in property vendors, ensuring fresh stock for both new and existing buyers in the market.?