House sales across the UK look set to increase as chartered surveyors’ expectations for the coming three months rose significantly, says the latest RICS housing market survey of 15 January 2013.

Last month, 24% more surveyors across the country predicted that transactions would rise rather than fall over the next quarter. This more positive outlook comes at a time when confidence has been growing that the market in some parts of the country may now be over the very worst.

In tandem with this, prices held steady during December. Notably, this is the first time since June 2010 that the national price balance has not been negative and – with prices forecast by RICS to rise by 2% during 2013 – it seems that the market in some areas of the country may have started to bottom out.

Furthermore, this stability looks set to persist, with surveyors no longer taking a negative view of the price outlook between now and March. This is the first time that respondents have not predicted further drops over the following three months since the summer of 2010.

Turning to market activity, the number of homes coming up for sale remained relatively stable last month, while demand from would-be buyers saw a continued increase. During December, a net balance of 12% more surveyors reported an increase in new buyer enquiries. This reading has now been in positive territory for four months.

Across the UK, London once again bucked the overall trend and saw significant increases in prices, while the North East and Wales saw the biggest drops. Notably, prices in the West Midlands stabilised last month; this represents the first time in over two and a half years that prices have stopped falling.

As we start the new year, confidence in the housing market does appear to be improving – helped in part by the impact of the Funding for Lending Scheme. Indeed, our members are predicting that transaction levels will continue increasing in many parts of the country and it may be that we are now over the very worst.

That said more still needs to be done to ensure potential buyers can access the market at every level. Alongside this, there is still a clear need for more homes to be built.

Source: RICS ‘E’ News January 2013