House prices are still falling but a recovery is in sight, according to the latest Hometrack survey. It reported a fall of - 0.2 per cent, the eighth consecutive month that house prices have tuumbled.
But the dip is the lowest since August last year, and new buyers have started to come back to the market in significant numbers. Average house prices now stand at £162,500, down from a peak of £167,700 in June last year.
West Midlands prices were in line with the national position - average prices now stand at £141,000. New buyers registered with estate agents rose by 28.5 per cent in February, suggesting "a revitalisation in the market".
Hometrack says this is also confirmed by an increase in transactions this month. Agreed sales rose by 36 per cent and the average time to sell has fallen for the first time since May 2004, to 7.6 weeks.
While supply of properties listed has also increased, up 19.8 per cent, the discounts buyers achieve from asking price have decreased slightly, indicating that the market is beginning to tighten.
Average sales price as a percentage of asking price rose to 93.9 per cent from 92.7 per cent in January, the first rise since April 2004.
Areas reporting price increases included Birmingham (0.1 per cent up) and Warwick (0.7 per cent ahead).
Those reporting the largest price falls were Leicestershire (-1.3 per cent), East Riding of Yorkshire (-0.9 per cent), Staffordshire (-0.7 per cent), Merseyside (-0.6 per cent) and East London (-0.6 per cent).
John Wriglesworth, Hometrack housing economist, said: "After over eight months of housing market doldrums, the first signs of a robust recovery have appeared.
"A significant rise of new buyers, and an even more marked increase in agreed sales have stabilised prices, and an analysis of recent trends suggests the worst is definitely over in terms of price falls. We expect prices to resume their long-term inevitable upward movement before the end of the year."