Housing activity picks up despite slow start

Activity in the housing market showed signs of picking up during February after a lull at the beginning of the year.

There was an increase in both the number of buyers and sellers during the month, following falls in December and January, according to Hometrack.

There was also a 10 per cent jump in the number of sales agreed, after transaction levels dropped by 4 per cent during the previous month.

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The pick up in activity led to house prices in England and Wales rising by 0.3 per cent during February.

But the group warned that 2010 had seen a slow start to the year. Richard Donnell, Hometrack's director of research, said: "February is traditionally a month when the Hometrack survey registers significant growth in the number of sales agreed – over the last eight years the growth in sales agreed over February has averaged 30 per cent.

"Yet this year (the increase in) the number of sales agreed has averaged just 10 per cent."

He added that there had also been a below-average increase in both the number of potential buyers looking for a property and the number of homes coming on to the market.

But despite the slower than usual start to the year, annual house price inflation still rose to 0.4 per cent – the first time it has been positive since March 2008.

Southern England is continuing to lead the recovery, with prices rising by 0.7 per cent in London and by 0.4 per cent in the South East during February.