Confidence is returning to the Westcountry's housing market despite the recession, a new survey suggests.
Inquiries from would-be buyers saw a rise in the region last month and have now grown steadily since the summer, according to the latest UK Housing Market survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
The institution put the rise down to a gradual increase in levels of optimism in the housing market across the South West.
Inquiries from potential buyers rose, showing a steady increase of 25% net balance since the summer. The net balance is calculated by subtracting the number of surveyors reporting a fall in inquiries from the number reporting a rise.
The signs are that people who are in a position to buy a house are gradually coming forward to test the market but this is not necessarily being matched by the number of sales, which have fallen by 14% net balance, with overall demand remaining at a historically low level.
Prices continue to fall in the region, albeit at a slower pace than earlier this year, with a net balance of 14% more chartered surveyors reporting falling prices last month.
Devon estate agent Richard Copus, who is also spokesman for the National Association of Estate Agents, said confidence was "definitely returning" to the market in the South West.
"I am cautiously optimistic. There is a confidence related to the recession – people aren't playing the waiting game only for prices to rise."
Mark Kaczmarek, Cornwall Council's cabinet member for housing, claimed the housing market in the authority area had bucked the recession.
"In Cornwall we have seen a stable housing market which was not hit by the economic dip. We are developing 2,300 homes a year many of which will be for people already living in the county.
"But we have got to be careful to build the right type of houses, the right design and sell them at the right price."
Mike Woodliffe, RICS residential spokesman for Somerset of Woodliffe & Co, estate agents and chartered surveyors, said: "Atrocious weather in November has probably brought forward the expected seasonal slowdown by a couple of weeks. However signs that serious new sellers are more realistic about price and are keen to make a sale by offering a chain-free transaction are encouraging."
Roger Punch, RICS residential spokesman for the South West, from estate agents Stags, said: "Motivation seems to be the key word currently in the South West market.
"There are buyers ready to purchase, provided that sellers are prepared to accept that their price level may be optimistic. Bearing in mind that sellers are normally buyers too, it may be that the growing confidence that this report suggests, implies that the market has the potential of a modest recovery."