The RICS has put an extremely upbeat spin on its latest monthly housing market survey despite the continued collapse in sales.

The survey highlights the clear 20% majority of optimists over pessimists among the surveyors quizzed in October about future prospects for sales.

This +20 balance in favour of sales increasing in the months ahead, if well founded, may be the first glimmer of hope that the market may be about to lift from its torpor. It is the most positive number to come out of this survey for a year.

However encouraging it is to see some confidence returning to hard-pressed estate agents, closer examination suggests it is far too early to consider this as the start of a turning tide.

On balance the survey picked up a slight majority of optimists expecting a pick up in sales last month. There was little sign that any pick up materialised, indeed sales plunged even further into waters not charted by this survey in its 30-year history.

The likelihood is that there may be odd months where sales increase. To be brutal, given that sales have fallen by more than a half, it is almost harder for them to remain this low than rise.

More disturbing and upsetting for those trapped in the middle of this economic maelstrom is that we may eventually start to see a significant rise in sales only as a result of the economic stress creating forced sales.