The number of house hunters in the UK shot up in September, suggesting appetite is returning to the mortgage market, figures from the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) have revealed.
Numbers fell away slightly in August, but September's rise from an average of 238 house hunters to 294 per NAEA branch is evidence that the decline had more to do with the summer holidays than a blip in the market, the body says.
"September proved to be a reassuring and important month for the housing market, as it showed that the first indicators of a recovery were strong enough to survive the seasonal decline inactivity that July and August traditionally brings," the NAEA said.
There was also a small rise in the number of sales agreed per branch, moving from eight in August to nine in September, while the number of properties available for sale fell from an average of 64 to 62.
First time buyers accounted for over a quarter (26 per cent) of total sales, although this represents a decline from the figure of 36 per cent in August.
However, the NAEA was bullish about the figures, saying they were still in the parameters of a healthy market. "The extent to which first time buyers have returned to the housing market over the past 12 months can be seen by comparing the year previous," it said.
"In September 2008, just ten per cent of new sales were made to first time buyers."
The body went on to warn that improvements could be scuppered by the end of the stamp duty holiday in January, and urged the Government to consider extending the programme as it has done with the car scrappage scheme.
The discrepancy between asking and selling prices stayed level in the month at 11 per cent.
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