The housing market started 2013 in “better shape” than it has been in either of the previous two years, property analysts have said.
Four out of five (79 per cent) estate agents are more optimistic about the market this spring than they were a year ago, although this is mainly driven by a belief that sales will pick up rather than house prices increasing, research by Hometrack said.
It added that this spring will be a “key test” of whether households are able to act on the recent signs of improvement in the housing market following Government efforts to unblock lending.
The latest study found that house prices were flat month-on-month across England and Wales in January following six months of falls.
Around 16 per cent of postcodes saw prices fall in January, representing a big slowdown in falls compared with the previous two months when around 27 per cent of districts recorded decreases.
London, which has consistently outperformed other areas, was the only region to see an uplift in prices, with a 0.3 per cent increase.
Prices were flat over the month in the East Midlands, the North West, the South East, the South West and the West Midlands.
They fell by 0.1 per cent in Wales, Yorkshire and Humberside and the North East and by 0.2 per cent in East Anglia.
Of the estate agents who feel more optimistic about the housing market, improvements to the mortgage situation and a “growing realism” among sellers about pricing were among the main reasons.
Compared with a year ago, the average percentage of the asking price achieved has risen in all regions but two – the East Midlands and the North West.
Across the country, the typical percentage of the asking price achieved was 93.1 per cent in January.