House sales in the South West have reached their highest level for more than five years, according to a new study, as the housing market recovery continues to gather momentum.
The average number of properties sold per chartered surveyor in the three months to September was 19, slightly above the UK average, according to figures from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
In tandem with increasing sales, the survey showed prices in the region also increased with 46% more respondents reporting rises rather than falls – the institution's highest figure since May 2004.
But fears of a house price bubble in the region were dismissed by Richard Copus, regional executive for the Westcountry, who said significant rises had been excluded to London and the South East.
Julian Evans, area partner for Connells in the South West, said it had experienced unprecedented increases in buyer demand, home sales and price rises, especially in and around Plymouth.
"The success of the first tranche of Help to Buy for new homes was beyond anyone's expectations in terms of the level of buyer interest and sales it has generated," he said.
"We have definitely seen an uplift in confidence from buyers and sellers are starting to catch onto this. Clearly we need and want to avoid the emergence of a property bubble and put in place a system of sustainable growth rather than boom and bust."
The RICS said the market had been boosted by the Government's Help to Buy initiative with a second phase of the scheme, introducing mortgage guarantees, expected to add to demand.
It added that the number of new instructions fell slightly in the region with 11% more respondents reporting rises rather than falls, potentially pushing prices up further in some areas. James Lang, managing director of Lang & Co, Plymouth based selling and lettings agent, said transaction numbers were up with month-on-month figures certainly higher. He said: "I think it's just a bit more confidence in the market, generally people are a lot more optimistic about buying a house at the moment. Whether people are feeling a bit more secure in their jobs, I don't know. It's been stagnant for a long time but people have had to get on with their lives."
According to the survey, a net balance of 47% more respondents expected the number of transactions to increase further over the coming three months, while 36% more predict prices to continue their push upwards.
Peter Bolton King, RICS global residential director, said:"It's encouraging that the market is starting to improve in all parts of the country with more buyers looking to make a move and more sales going through.
"Even so, it's a big concern that the supply of property coming to the market is lagging so far behind demand. This imbalance is likely to result in further upward pressure in prices over the coming months."