The house builder Persimmon has revealed sales volumes in the first quarter of 2009 ahead of expectations, raising hopes that a recovery in the market may be under way. In its interim management statement, the firm added that sales over recent weeks had been ahead of those achieved in the comparative weeks of April last year, when there had been a significant deterioration in market conditions. A cancellation rate of 16 per cent over the first three months of the year also represented a significant improvement on the rate of 35 per cent recorded for the last quarter of 2008. It is the latest of a number of encouraging signs in the housing market; mortgage lending increased by 16 per cent last month, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders, while figures from HM Revenues & Customs show the number of house sales increased by 40 per cent in March. Furthermore, Northern Rock announced that the number of mortgage applications it received rose by 70 per cent last month. Despite the good news, the firm said it would remain cautious about the outlook until mortgage availability improved further and employment prospects became less uncertain.
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