House sales have increased for four months in a row, in further signs that confidence in the market is picking up, surveyors have reported.
An overall balance of 15% more surveyors said that sales rose rather than fell in January, continuing a general trend of sales increases seen for four consecutive months, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said.
Sales are predicted to rise further as spring approaches but prices are expected to remain flat, the latest findings showed. House prices have remained broadly stable, with 4% more surveyors saying that prices fell rather than increased last month.
RICS said that across the country, prices continued their upward march in London and the South East - and also moved into positive territory in Wales for the first time since early 2010.
The West Midlands and Yorkshire and Humberside saw the most severe price falls and surveyors in Scotland and Northern Ireland continued to record falling prices.
The findings echo a recent study from property analyst Hometrack, which said that prices were broadly flat month-on-month in January but estate agents have already seen signs of uplifts in sales this year.
RICS said that despite the recent signs of improvement in the market, demand from would-be buyers has dipped slightly since the start of the new year, with a balance of 9% surveyors saying that new enquiries fell in January. There was also a slight fall in the number of homes coming on the market.
However, surveyors suggested that the recent bad weather was behind the recent softening in the figures.
Peter Bolton King, RICS global residential director, said: "Price falls across the UK have gradually stemmed in recent months and it is interesting to see that the amount of completed transactions are on the rise, as confidence returns to the marketplace.
"While it is still very early days to talk about a comprehensive market recovery, activity levels are still encouraging and there is some optimism out there that things could continue to improve."