The tentative signs of a pick-up in the UK housing activity became more broadly based over the last month, a survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors or RICS showed Tuesday.

The net balance of surveyors reporting house price falls eased further. Around 59.9% more surveyors reported a fall than rise in house prices in April, from a revised 72.1% in March. The April level was the strongest since January 2008 and the balance was better than the expected minus 70%.

New enquiries in the market improved for the sixth month in a row. According to the survey, 41% more Chartered Surveyors reported a rise than a fall in new buyer enquiries, up from 32% in March and the highest figure for almost a decade.

An average 10.6 properties were sold over the last three months, larger than 9.7. At the same time, the balance of newly agreed sales continued to increase and surveyors in most regions now expect this trend to continue. This was the first instance that surveyors universally remain optimistic regarding sales since August 2006.

Further, the sales to stock ratio, a key measure of market slack, improved for the fourth straight month, signaling a likely stabilization in prices later this year.

Commenting, RICS spokesperson Jeremy Leaf said, There are tentative signs that the market is starting to pick up but transactions remain at very low levels and we are unlikely to see significant improvement while money remains in short supply and the employment picture is uncertain.

Leaf stated that house prices could stabilize in the coming months but prospective purchasers and first-time buyers particularly, will continue to encounter challenges.

The balance of surveyors reporting new instructions to dispose property remained negative despite deterioration in employment picture. Easing prices and subdued activity discouraged potential sellers from putting property up for sale. The changes in rules governing Home Information Pack or HIP, introduced on April 5, led to a sharp drop in new vendor instructions.

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