James Moore: Housing market still needs support to build sales

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The Independent Online

Outlook Countrywide, the property services company that is an estate agent, a surveyor, and a letting agent (so everything to do with houses apart from the building of them) is sitting pretty.

The housing market is showing signs of life which led to a good final quarter (profits were up by a quarter over the same period in 2013).

But it was at pains to stress that there's a long way to go. By historic standards, mortgage approvals and completed sales are still at very low levels.

That may not change any time soon. Banks are much more cautious about lending, and measures such as the Government's "help to buy" scheme have been required to facilitate even the limited activity that there is in certain parts of the country.

London and the South-east, fuelled by financial services and foreign investment, are in a very different situation to the rest of Britain, where the market may swiftly dry up if ministers try to take it off the life support they're providing.