New year bounce forecast for house prices

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The Independent Online

A sharp rise in confidence among homebuyers points to a revival in the housing market in the new year, according to research carried out by the website Propertyfinder.com.

The survey suggests that the number of homes being bought and sold will grow strongly in January. It provides further evidence that the housing market has turned the corner following a pickup in mortgage approvals and house-price inflation.

Sixty per cent of people surveyed in November expected house prices to rise over the coming 12 months, by an average of 1.4 per cent. That figure is up from 54 per cent in October who expected price increases and compares with a mere 24 per cent in November last year. This sharp increase in househunter confidence suggests there will be 31 per cent more transactions in January than a year ago, to a total of 140,000. The survey also found that activity among househunters has already picked up. Propertyfinder is handling 25 per cent more inquiries from buyers interested in properties advertised on its website than a year ago.

Jim Buckle, the managing director, said: "We can predict with confidence that the housing market will wake up on New Year's Day 2006 without the hangover it suffered on 1 January 2005. Househunter confidence is on the up and although we don't expect prices to rise strongly, there is no doubt that people are no longer afraid to move."

Propertyfinder says its research shows a strong correlation between househunter confidence and transaction volumes three months later.

Propertyfinder is owned by Rupert Murdoch's News International and Australian website realestate.com.au. It has more than 200,000 properties from over 2,400 estate agents across the UK and overseas, after its merger with assertahome in March.

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