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Green shoots as housing market picks up

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Interest from potential home buyers in Kent is on the up, sparking speculation the housing market is beginning to improve.

In all 16 per cent of surveyors in the south east said they were expecting or had seen a rise in the number of buyer enquiries compared to 39 per cent reporting a fall last year.

Nationally the number of enquiries went up for the fifth consecutive month. Across the country nearly a third of chartered surveyors reported a rise in interest, compared to 21 per cent in February.

The poll by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors () said the rise in interest reflects both the drop in asking prices and the sharp fall in the cost of money. They say as house prices drop, those who are more financially secure are now looking to do more than window shop.

Now there is optimism among the county’s surveyors the market can begin to pick up.

Robert Sumner of Sumner & Pridham in Tunbridge Wells said: “March has been a good month. “Viewing levels are good, offers are being made and sales are now similar to the same period last year.

“There is a good market for detached family houses mostly as a result of those seeking to take advantage of the grammar schools in Kent’s education system.”

Mike Hewson of west Kent surveyors Ibbett Mosely said: “This has been an excellent month for arranged sales. It has been much better than February and on a par with March last year.

“This activity has been almost exclusively in the up to £500,000 range, but we expect this to gradually have a knock-on effect at higher price levels.

“The problems with mortgage availability have probably stopped a number of other sales from materializing. Price falls have slowed markedly so we expect an end to price falls later in the year.”

The difficulty in obtaining finance is being blamed for there not being more properties actually sold.

RICS spokesman Ian Perry said: “Buyer interest is starting to gain real momentum but will remain frustrated while mortgage finance is scarce.

“The market is still in a fragile state but with demand continuing to pick up, there may be more signs of stabilisation in the coming months.”

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