Has spring sprung for housing market?

East Anglia's housing market appears to have sprung to life in January, seeing a huge rise in the number of properties being put up for sale, according to a nationwide index.

Against an increase of 51.5pc nationally, East Anglia saw a 61.6pc rise in the number of properties put on the market in January compared to December.

Only central England and the north-east saw higher numbers of homes put on the market.

However, the same period saw house sales drop 0.1pc in East Anglia, but this was compared to a drop of 4.7pc nationally.

The figures for Norwich were also in stark contrast with a slump of 24.8pc in the number of homes put on the market, according to Norwich-based for sale sign board firm Agency Express.

Its figures were released as Halifax reported a 0.8pc increase in house prices nationally.

Halifax said the average cost of a home in Britain rose to �164,173 last month, but this followed a 1.3pc plunge in December as snowed-in buyers stayed away from the market.

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Quarter-on-quarter – seen as a smoother indicator of market trends – house prices dropped off 0.7pc, according to the group.

Halifax said 2011 house prices would be constrained by consumer caution, with spending cuts and tax hikes hitting confidence.

Halifax also predicted that the number of sellers coming on to the market would fall and help support prices by shifting the demand and supply balance.

Stephen Watson, managing director at Agency Express, said: 'Although there are a still a lot of questions to be asked about the state of the economy, the prospects for interest rates and inflation and the impact they will have on the housing market, when you see that the number of properties being put on the market and houses being sold being significantly above the previous two Januarys, it does indicate that confidence is returning to the market and that we can expect 2011 to be a better year than 2010.'

Howard Archer, chief economist at IHS Global Insight, said he still believed house prices were likely to fall by around 5pc in 2011 and would end up declining by 10pc from their 2010 peak levels.