Business

UK housing market shows sales lift, says Rics

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Media captionRics' Peter Bolton King: "Sentiment all over the country has been much more positive"

UK house sales hit their highest level in more than two-and-a-half years in February, but the figures do not signal a housing boom, surveyors say.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) said nearly 17 homes were sold per surveyor in the three months to February.

The rise in sales was set to continue, Rics said, even though inquiries from potential buyers had failed to pick up since January's cold snap.

Prices were also relatively unchanged.

The number of mortgages on the market has increased by about a third since the launch of the Funding for Lending scheme, which was aimed at encouraging lending by offering cheap funds to mortgage and loan providers.

"It is encouraging to see that the housing market now appears to be picking up across most parts of the UK despite ongoing concerns about the health of the economy," said Peter Bolton King, global residential director at Rics.

"This may, in part, be down to the growing availability of mortgage finance through schemes such as Funding for Lending. However, even with activity running at its best level since the middle of 2010, it is still well down on its pre-crisis norm."

The number of homes being sold at present in the UK is about half the total seen in 2007 before the financial crisis hit, according to figures from HM Revenue and Customs.

The housing market has had little momentum in recent years, although a number of government schemes have assisted the market for new homes.

However, many borrowers have found it tough to raise the deposit required by lenders to secure a home loan.

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