West Midland estate agency chain Dixons shared fully in a powerful recovery by parent company Countrywide, although regional house prices lagged behind most of Britain in the first half of this year.
Robert Scarff, a Dixons director and Countrywide's sales director for the western UK, said Dixons sold 18 per cent more homes than in the first six months of last year.
This improvement was above average for Countrywide, if one allows for an exceptional recovery in the performance of former Bradford & Bingley branches.
"This was the first year you could call normal for several years," Mr Scarff added.
Apart from the recovery of consumer confidence after a "torrid" 2005, Dixons also benefited from a reorganisation in which its Midland and Birmingham operations were brought back together as a single business with 35 branches.
Countrywide also has nine Bairstow Eves branches in Birmingham and the West Midlands and the country house department of John D Wood is strongly represented in the Cotswolds.
Countrywide as a whole reported a half-time profit of £ 62.8 million against £3.5 million in the first half of last year.
This included £16.4 million from the sales of 5.3 million shares in Rightmove when it was floated on the Stock Exchange in March. Countrywide still owns 21.5 per cent of R ightmove, worth some £80 million.
The UK residential estate agencies turned a half-year loss of £6.4 million in 2005 into a £19 million operating profit.
A 5p interim dividend, after only 1p declared in different circumstances last year, is a base for a new progressive dividend policy to be based on pay-outs covered between two and 2.5 times earnings over a five-year business cycle, said Christopher Sporborg, who retires as chairman after 20 years in January.
"Without a life company we need virtually no capital and it is very cash generative," he explained.
Countrywide has already returned £20 million of the proceeds of the Rightmove sale in a share buy-back.
Mr Sporborg said he was disappointed that the Bank of England had chosen to raise interest rates last week at a time when there were signs that the housing market is entering a seasonal lull, though showing no sign of extreme movement in either direction.
"However, we believe that the current market is sufficiently robust to absorb this increase," he added.
"Providing this increase does not mark the first of a series of rate rises, and absent any other external shocks which might affect confidence, the market will continue to remain at current levels subject to normal seasonal fluctuations.
"In this case house prices should continue to increase on a gentle upward trend.
"In this event, we are confident of the immediate future and anticipate a further strong profit and cash flow performance next year."
The Government's decision not to make home condition reports mandatory for houses coming on the market next year came as a disappointment to Countrywide, whose managers have spent an "immeasurable amount of time" preparing for them.
So far it had trained only 27 surveyors for the work and had not yet started taking on new staff to do the job.
"This will seriously weaken the ability of home information packs to transform house buying the way that the govern-ment originally intended," the company stated. "Countrywide remains a strong supporter of this intention."
Countrywide shares closed down 4.75p to 397p or one per cent.