The discretionary movers

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Gerry and Christine Reilly wanted a bigger house close to Stratford- on-Avon, where Mr Reilly's work as sales director with First Choice Holidays is based. They bought a new four-bedroom, three-bathroom property on County Homes' development at Ettington.

Mrs Reilly said they chose the house because it had a large study which her husband could use to work from home and a family room off the kitchen for her three-year-old daughter. Prices on the development start at £189,500.

Generally the mood among property people in the Midlands and North is not as gloomy as it is in the South. This is not because they are having an easier time; it is simply that business has been like this for so long they have got used to it.

"The housing market continues its bumpy ride in a predictable pattern," reports Jonathan Clayton of Bentley Higgs in Blackpool. "Only vendors who will accept realistic asking prices have any chance of selling their properties in the short term. The majority of sales at the moment are almost forced sales - vacant properties, deceased estates, repossessed properties or relocations."