Property prices are on the turn - almost.
Is the property market on the up? There's a degree of confusion about this. Around the country, the general feeling is that there is more movement in the market, but that it is still very price sensitive. To get a clearer picture, we asked various estate agents to report on how well their areas were doing.

Jeff Frost of Miller & Co in Truro says that sales are up 21 per cent on last year, with enquiries up 35 per cent last month.

In Somerset, Philip Roberts of Palmer Snell says that there has been a marked improvement since the beginning of the year, but price rises are very gradual.

In Wales, Michael Young of Michael Graham Young in Cardiff says, "Vendors can see that houses are selling, so are beginning to put theirs up for sale. Most buyers are in a good position because they are either renting or have a buyer lined up for their own house."

Colin Fitzgerald, regional director of Hamptons for Surrey, Sussex and Hampshire says "New homes and period houses are the biggest sellers at the moment. Much of the new-build property is selling off-plan as buyers are concerned that prices will rise if they don't buy now."

Simon Arnes of William H Brown in East Anglia says, "The market is better than it has been for the last seven to eight years. There is more activity the closer you are to London, but this is filtering right up to Norfolk."

In Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, sales are generally up by 83 per cent since last year. Roger Pollard of Hamptons in the Thames Valley and the Chilterns reports that demand is particularly strong in Sunningdale and its environs.

In the Cotswolds, there is a sustained improvement. "Our best sales are period homes from around pounds 250,000 within reasonable commuting distance of Birmingham" says Gavin West of Hamptons.

New homes are selling well in the north east. Mark Newton of Black Horse Agencies in the area says, "The middle range of property is proving a lot easier to sell now and we are 12 per cent up on sales last year".

In Yorkshire, John Raylor of GA Property Services says that the most difficult properties to sell are modern, detached developments which are competing with brand new developments.

In the Midlands, Alan Gottschalk of Black Horse Agencies reports an improvement in sales. "We have sold 85 per cent of new instructions so far this year." The north west is bouyant, with sales and activity up by 20 per cent, according to Deryck Highet of Black Horse Agencies. Scotland is seeing similarly increased activity although prices remain static except for isolated patches such as Edinburgh, and to a lesser extent Glasgow.

In London, it is the fringe areas which are seeing the most vigorous market, with rises of 5 per cent or more. "North Kensington is showing an abnormal growth pattern with dramatic price increases well above London averages," says Simon Agace of Winkworth. Fulham is also very busy.

The good news was that no one reported falling prices, just static ones. There was a cautious optimism that the market will slowly improve, although prices are unlikely to increase significantly until at least next year.

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