House sales hit six-year high as activity spreads across the UK

PROPERTY sales have soared to their highest level in six years as the housing boom grips regions across the UK, a new survey by property experts revealed today.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said the housing recovery is “well and truly underway” with buyers testing the market right across UK and not just in London and the south east.

On average, RICS’ 513 branches of estate agents sold 23 homes each in the three months to March – the highest amount since 2008.

Prices also rose, with 57 per cent of RICS’ surveyors recording a rise in prices rather than fall.

RICS economist Simon Rubinsohn warned that while demand was on the rise, a lack of new homes coming onto the market was likely to be pushing house prices higher and beyond the reach of first-time buyers.

“For the market to operate effectively, we desperately need more homes in areas where people want to buy and want to live,” he said.

Meanwhile mortgage data by Halifax yesterday showed that the average new home owner has now earned enough since January to pay off this year’s mortgage payments. Last year the day came slightly later, on 13 April.

Based on an annual wage of just over £25,600, typical mortgage holders will now have earned the £6,954 they need to cover their loan repayments this year. But Londoners are not so lucky: the day won’t come until the second half of May in the capital’s frothy property market.

In parts of Northern Ireland, people with the UK’s average income reached so-called “mortgage freedom day” in mid-February.