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Increase in UK property sales prompts first optimism from surveyors since August 2006

They are harkened by the continued slowing down of price decreases, according to the latest monthly report from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyor. It is the first sign of optimism in the profession since August 2006.

It also shows that there was a sharp drop in new instructions, leading to an increase in sales to stock ratio for the fourth consecutive month.

The seasonally adjusted net balance of surveyors reporting falling rather than rising prices was – 59.9, compared with -72.1 in March. This is negative but the best reading since January 2008, the report said.

On price expectations, the net balance remains deeply in negative territory but the reading of -43 is a sharp improvement on the -88 level recorded in January and the best reading for seventeen months.

RICS said that new buyer enquiries have now increased for six months in a row with the positive net balance in April climbing to its best level since August 1999.

There is also more evidence that the higher level of buyer interest is feeding through into actual sales as newly agreed sales, measured on a net balance basis, rose over the month as did the average sales per surveyor.

But new instructions to sell property continued to fall and sharply so and there are signs that stricter rules for Home Information Packs could be partly to blame.

'There are tentative signs that the market is starting to pick up but transactions remain at very low levels and we are unlikely to see significant improvement while money remains in short supply and the employment picture is uncertain,' said RICS spokesperson Jeremy Leaf.

'Transaction levels could benefit from an increase in supply but falling prices and low interest rates are discouraging sellers as is the latest change in HIPS legislation. House prices could stabilise in the coming months but prospective purchasers, and first-time buyers particularly, will continue to encounter challenges while banks maintain current loan to value ratios and make accessibility difficult even for those who have accumulated considerable equity in their existing properties,' he added.