The shortage of homes on the market has provided surveyors with increased confidence that house prices may rise, according to the latest RICS survey.

For the first time since May 2007 more surveyors polled by the RICS expect house prices to rise than expect them to fall.

And the RICS sales to stock ratio measure which has proved a reasonable indicator of price movements over time is now on the up.

But there appears to be a general recognition that any upward movement in prices is being supported by a dearth of housing stock.

From personal experience I can't remember ever seeing before last week a full page estate agent advert in a local paper with no more than "SOLD OUT" on a full tabloid page.

The upside for house builders is that this lack of second hand stock is providing at least a window of opportunity to sell more homes and this improvement in the market is reflected in a splattering of jollier trading statements than we have see for some while.

However, the data from RICS reinforces the view that a north-south divide is developing within the English and Welsh housing market. Along with the Scots, London, South East and South West surveyors are on balance positive on prices while surveyors in other regions and Wales on balance remain negative.

And for all the broadly jollier market news for house sellers we are still left with the big question: Is this a recovery, stabilisation, or a temporary stay of execution for the housing market?