The Westcountry housing market remains flat even though the UK market is in "better shape" than it has been for the past two years, according to latest figures.
House prices were flat month-on-month across the South West in January, following six months of falls across England and Wales.
Research by Hometrack found four out of five (79%) estate agents were more optimistic about the market this spring than they were a year ago. It said the spring will be a "key test" of whether households are able to act on the recent signs of improvement in the housing market following government efforts to unblock lending.
Richard Donnell, director of research at Hometrack, said: "Despite the slow start, the housing market looks to be in slightly better shape than the start of the previous two years. After the initial downturn in 2008, and the modest bounce-back in 2009/10, the housing market has been struggling to arrive at a point where pricing appears stable and there is broad alignment between what buyers are prepared to pay and sellers are prepared to accept for their home."
The main reasons for the optimism among estate agents were improvements to the mortgage situation and a "growing realism" about prices from sellers. Around 16% of UK postcodes saw prices fall in January, a big slowdown in falls compared with the previous two months, when around 27% of districts recorded decreases.
The latest figures come in spite of chartered surveyors in the South West saying they expect a "positive" first quarter of 2013. Last month 37% of surveyors in the region predicted transactions would rise over the next quarter, indicating a growing confidence that the market was over the very worst of its slump.
The statistics from the latest Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors housing market survey predicted house prices would rise by 2% during 2013.
RICS residential spokesman for the South West, Roger Punch of estate agent Stags, said: "The latest survey gives some confidence for the New Year's market, but it relies on vendors being prepared to be realistic with price.
"The trend in the early part of any year is for sellers and agents to pitch prices a little high with the view that they can always come down, but this report implies that this tactic could hold back a potentially improving market."
The Hometrack study asks around 6,000 estate agents and surveyors about achievable selling prices in their area.