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Signs are mixed over the housing market

PUBLISHED: 09:58 09 March 2011

Unoccupied houses on an estate in Caister on Sea, Norfolk. Photo: James Bass

Unoccupied houses on an estate in Caister on Sea, Norfolk. Photo: James Bass

Archant Norfolk Photographic © 2011

Mixed signals have emerged over the region's housing market in two contrasting studies.

A monthly property activity index compiled by Agency Express, the UK’s leading supplier of “for sale” and “sold” boards, showed a 28.8pc increase in sold boards erected in East Anglia in February – ending five consecutive months of decline.

But a study by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) showed newly agreed sales were down in the region last month, which it said suggested a “more downbeat picture”.

The RICS study said, nationally, demand for property remained at “historically low levels”, but prospects for the next three months appeared brighter, with a balance of more than 20pc expecting improvement.

The Agency Express figures, while up on January, show sold boards were 10.7pc lower than in February 2010, an exceptionally high month for sales.

Stephen Watson, managing director of Norwich-based Agency Express, said better weather conditions and a move to secure lower interest mortgages may have contributed to sales.Jeremy Leaf, RICS housing spokesman, said despite growth in some areas the general mood was “a little flat”, adding: “Rather ominously, we have probably yet to feel the full impact of the public spending cuts which are likely to lead to further divergence in the regional property market.”

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