New city centre apartments in the West Midlands are selling like hot cakes, according to new figures from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

It yesterday said that agreed house sales in the region rose for the second consecutive month in August.

In the West Midlands, activity was particularly apparent in the city centre apartment market, with blocks of apartments being snapped up 'off plan' by developer investors.

Surveyors seem to be split on the direction for prices, with half reporting a stable period and the remaining 50 per cent reporting a price fall.

However, the situation is more optimistic than in July when 62 per cent surveyors reported a price fall.

Harvey Williams, RICS national and regional housing spokesman, said: "Buyer confidence is on the up within the West Midlands and this is reflected in the encouraging level of new enquires.

"Buyer enquiries rose for the third consecutive month in August, and anecdotal evidence suggests this trend will continue during September.

"Reductions in mortgage rates by some of the high street lenders, following the base rate cut in August, are beginning to work their way through the market. This could be the incentive needed to get more first time buyers back into the fold, though this may only go so far given the affordability problems facing these buyers in the market."

He added: "In marked contrast to the cautious buyers we have been seeing in the wider housing market, city centre new build developments are flying out the door as investors continue to buy in bulk.

"Often buying off plan, developer investors are continuing to snap up opportunities across the region in this high supply and demand market.

"Forthcoming changes to Self Invested Personal Pensions (SIPPs) in April 2006 may bring a change in the buyer's profile for this market, as more flexible investment possibilities become available to the wider market."

Looking across the UK, the RICS said that new buyer enquiries rose for a third consecutive month due in part to a boost in buyer interest fuelled by August's interest rate cut.

Completed property sales were also up, for the second month in a row, having risen by 7.5 per cent since February.