Sales of UK homes hit three-year high

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The number of property transactions carried out between March and May surged to a level not seen since the start of 2010.

According to the latest survey of its members carried out by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), increasing confidence in the economy has prompted the increse in activity, with homebuyers and sellers feeling more positive about prospects for the UK.

RICS said that growing confidence in the housing market could be attributed in part to the government’s Funding for Lending scheme, which has helped to bring down the cost of mortgage borrowing.

However, it said that it’s too early to tell whether the government’s Help to Buy scheme has contributed to the improving conditions in the housing market.

A net balance of 35% of RICS members believe that the level of property transactions will continue to grow this year, although the picture varies from region to region, led strongly by the capital.

Surveyors anticipate an increase in average property prices in all regions of the UK except for Northern Ireland.

Ben Thompson, managing director of Legal & General Mortgage Club, said:

“All indicators are that the market is moving onwards and upwards and this month’s data is no different with the number of properties sold in the UK in the past three months reaching its highest level since January 2010.

“Clearly sentiment has shifted firmly to the positive in many areas of the country. As a result demand is growing and happily there is greater mortgage finance in place and available to service it. Of course there is still more work to be done but the hope is we have reached a watershed moment and a full recovery is underway.”

Brian Murphy, head of lending at Mortgage Advice Bureau (MAB), added):  

“The fact that the RICS data shows home sales have hit their highest point since January 2010 will only add to the head of steam building in the property market. Back then, consumer choice was limited to around 4,500 mortgage products on average whereas in May there were almost twice as many available – over 9,600 – through mortgage brokers or direct from lenders.  

“We are starting to see queues forming, as the burst of activity draws people’s attention to a window of opportunity when it comes to buying and selling property. With so many good deals out there buyers are keen to act before prices climb any higher, while homeowners looking to sell can find themselves spoilt for choice when it comes to attracting an offer.”