There were two pieces of good news for housebuilders this week; the Nationwide building society said house prices rose 1.2% in May and there was some encouraging purchasing data

As the graph below shows, it was enough to get some investors excited.

But Robin Hardy, an analyst at KBC Peel Hunt, is among a group of City watchers who think they are grasping at straws.

“It reminds me of a pantomime,” he said. “Come on children, if you close your eyes and wish hard enough it will all get better. The half-sentence from the Nationwide chief economist that there were some grounds for optimism was the one everyone seized on.”

Elsewhere, attentive readers would have spotted an unassuming job ad on page 59 of last week’s Building, which read: “Managing directors, technical directors, strategic land managers required by national volume housebuilder.”

As housebuilders run out of stock, some are clearly readying themselves for the upturn.

“They have no choice,” said Hardy, quashing suggestions the revival was close at hand. “They can’t let stock fall to zero and just because they’re re-stocking the shelves doesn’t mean people are ready to buy.”