Property surveyors are not predicting further house price declines

Estate agents’ gloom about the UK housing market is beginning to lift, according to the latest RICS Housing Market Survey.

For the first time since May 2010, property surveyors are not predicting further house price declines.

The rise in optimism chimed with new figures from the Council of Mortgage Lenders, which revealed there were 23% more first-time buyers in January 2012 than the same month the previous year.

In total 35,600 loans worth £5.3bn were taken out for house purchase in January, also up 23% in value on a year ago.

However house prices again dipped in February according to RICS - albeit at the slowest rate for over a year and a half - with 13% more surveyors reporting price falls rather than rises over the month.

House sales improved in February, with the average number of transactions per surveyor moving up to 16 in March, compared to 15.7 the previous month.

Estate agents expect transaction levels to continue to rise, with a net balance of 20% more surveyors predicting sales to increase over the coming three months.

London was again the only part of the country to see house prices increase, while surveyors in the West Midlands and Northern Ireland saw the least positive readings.