Estate agents claim stability may be returning to housing market

Property sales showed signs of stabilising during April but transactions remain well down.

Estate agents sold an average of eight properties per branch, unchanged from the number of sales agreed in both February and March, according to the National Association of Estate Agents.

The group said its members reported a flurry of activity during the early part of the month in the run-up to Easter, with interest tailing off over the extended bank-holiday period.

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Sign up to our Business newsletter

Estate agents were also in a more bullish mood than during previous months, with many reporting a pick-up in the market and a good month for sales despite the bank holidays.

But transaction volumes still remain well down on pre-credit crunch levels when peaked at 14 per month in early 2007.

Estate agents had an average of 69 properties on their books, up from 68 in March and considerably higher than the 62 they were trying to sell in April last year. But the bank-holiday weekends appeared to have had an impact on demand as people put moving plans on hold while they enjoyed the extra time off work.

An average of 277 househunters registered with estate agents during the month, down from 290 in March.

But there was a fall in the proportion of first-time buyers.

People buying their first home accounted for only 21 per cent of sales, which was down from the 23 per cent seen in March.

National Association of Estate Agents president Michael Jones said: “Although in line with figures from this time last year, the Chancellor’s Budget, which made special concessions for this group, has had little effect so far.”

The survey is more upbeat than other economic data on the housing market for April,.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders said that total mortgage advances dropped by 14 per cent during the month.