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Estate agents across the UK reported a slight increase in activity at the end of 2008, the National Association of Estate Agents reveals today.

After 12 months of misery, the NAEA’s monthly market survey for December – traditionally a quiet month – revealed some positive signs in the market.

The number of house hunters registered with agents rose from 186 in November to 200 in December, while the number of properties available for sale on the average agent’s books rose from 87 to 100 over the same time period.

While many agents had expected a fall in activity in December, the number of sales per agent held at six – still a very low figure historically – while the number of first time buyers (FTBs) as a percentage of new sales rose for the fifth month in a row.

Agents surveyed also reported an incremental increase in house prices.

NAEA President Chris Brown said: “After 12 months of misery it is heartening to see that some agents across the country performed better than expected at the tail end of 2008. However nobody should be under any illusion that the housing market’s difficulties have finished.
Rather, these figures should be taken as hopefully suggesting that the market is, in some areas, beginning to bottom out. This process in itself will be a long one, and any recovery will require help from Government to succeed – most immediately in the form of a complete suspension of stamp duty.
“The reported increase in house prices can be seen as a statistical outlier that hopefully signals the direction that, with small steps, 2009 will take us.
“However agents in many parts of the country are still struggling to survive and thousands of potential homeowners are still in need of help from the Government and a commitment from the major lenders to free up credit.”

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