East Anglia's house sales boost

Adam Gretton East Anglia's slumbering housing market are demonstrating fresh signs of revival after new figures revealed a huge jump in residential property sales.

Adam Gretton

East Anglia's slumbering housing market are demonstrating fresh signs of revival after new figures revealed a huge jump in residential property sales.

Fresh hopes have been raised that the region's economy is recovering at a faster pace than expected following the worst recession in living memory and house price slump.

Property experts yesterday welcomed the news that house sales activity in the East had dramatically sprung back to life in February with the highest level of transactions in almost two years.

Independent figures from Norfolk-based Agency Express revealed that 26pc more homes were sold in the region last month compared to the same period last year.

The property activity index, which is based on the number of “Sold” and “For Sale” boards springing up, also revealed that month-on-month sales in East Anglia rocketed 125pc in February after being hit by the January snow - with Norwich and Cambridge experiencing some of the biggest peaks in the country.

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Estate agents said the news demonstrated renewed buyer and seller confidence in the housing market.

The news comes despite figures from the Nationwide that suggested prices fell by 1pc in February, which brought the average price of a UK home down to �161,320.

But Ian Harris, chairman of the National Association of Estate Agents in Norfolk, said the Agency Express statistics were more indicative of the increased number of enquiries, quotations, viewings and sales that are taking place in the county.

“We are seeing a whole group of people who are, frankly, bored with the recession. People were put off from moving with the house price crash two years ago and they are now saying they cannot hold on forever.”

“Agents were quite fearful of a double dip to house prices in December, but if you ask them now the majority would be more optimistic than cautious,” he said.

The activity index by property board company, Agency Express, revealed that Cambridge (140pc) and Norwich (110pc) received some of the highest house sale rises in the country during a busy February. The region also last month experienced a 45pc increase in the number of “For Sale” boards compared to February 2009.

Stephen Watson, managing director of the East Carleton firm, said house sales were beginning to return to the levels of the market peak following a slow start to 2010.

“Whilst we expected February to be a better month for house sales than January, the levels we have seen have exceeded our expectations. It appears that the growing economic optimism has permeated the housing market and people are making the decision to move. The strength of activity bodes well for the coming months,” he said.

However, agents warned that the market was unlikely to see a rapid rise in prices. Tim Hayward, partner at Norwich-based Jackson-Stops and Staff, said there was a lot more activity in property hot-spots like Norwich, Holt, and some coastal areas.

“People have decided to get on with it now the world has not finished and there is more confidence. It has recovered a great deal since the dark days of 2008 and I think there is a good deal of optimism.”

“I do not think it will happen quickly and there will be a slow improvement. We do not want prices to go up too quickly,” he said.

Mike Rix, from Savills in Norwich, added that the bad weather conditions had affected sales at the start of the year, but transactions were beginning to pick up.

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