House sales 'set to return to pre-crash levels'

The number of property sales in the UK will return to pre-financial crash levels by 2016, according to estate agency group Hamptons.

Continuing low interest rates, a more buoyant economy and initiatives such as the Help to Buy scheme will be behind the uptick in sales.

As a by-product Hamptons said that it expected house prices to increase by 6 per cent next year and by nearly a third over the next five.

However, Hamptons research director Fionnuala Earley said the more important factor in judging the robustness of the housing market was transactions: "The fixation with house prices as an indicator of housing market recovery is misplaced," she said.

"Transaction levels are a far superior indicator of housing market health. A liquid and active market is the key to avoiding volatility and to ensuring a stable and sustainable housing market in the UK."

By 2016, the group added, total transactions will again breach the one million mark, an average of over 80,000 a month, in line with the Uk's historic norm. In the immediate aftermath of the financial crash transactions slumped to below 40,000.