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    Estate agents are reporting signs of recovery in Bristol’s housing market.

    A number of agents have told the Bristol Post that house sales are rising, with buyers benefiting from prices which are up to 20 per cent lower than their peak in 2007. Sellers are also willing to accept offers below the asking price in the knowledge that the homes they want will be cheaper too.

    And they say first-time buyers are coming back into the market, with many relying on the “bank of mum and dad” to raise the ten to 15 per cent deposits now required by lenders.

    The National Association of Estate Agents’ housing market survey for last month revealed that activity in the market was much more consistent from January to February than it had been in previous months.

    The report said: “While times remain tough, there are also a number of reasons to be positive. The percentage of first-time buyers held steady and the number of sales per agent also jumped to eight – the most successful figures in a year and a real reason, coupled with the first time buyer figures, to take heart.”

    The average selling price across all house types in February was 7.15 per cent lower then the actual asking price.

    Besley Hill estate agents in Bishopston sold five homes last week.

    Estate agent Darren Head, 32, has just sold a large four-bedroom townhouse in St Andrews for £370,000. It was first put on the market last year for £430,000.

    He said: “The average Victorian two or three bedroom property in Bishopston is selling for between £275,000 and £320,000, depending on which side of Gloucester Road it is.

    “We have just sold a big ground floor flat for £175,000 which was originally on at £235,000. In the end, we had nine people at an open viewing and four offers.”

    A two-bedroom house in Wolseley Road, Bishopston, which needed work has just sold for £198,500.

    Mr Head said: “It’s a really busy time. We have a lot of people all looking at the moment but homes are selling.

    “Sellers are being realistic about what they can achieve and homes priced sensibly are selling.”

    “First time buyers are still having a hard time raising a ten per cent deposit but there are some lucky ones who can go to the bank of mum and dad.”

    Taylors estate agents is opening a new office in Bradley Stoke town square which will have six staff.

    Area director Tony Benstead said: “We have had more business in January and February than we have had for quite some time.

    “Prices have firmed and demand is outstripping supply.”

    Ian Pope at Greenwoods in Totterdown said the recovery in the housing market began in February there.

    While he didn’t want to reveal numbers of sales he said: “We are getting far more buyers now. Homes are more affordable, interest rates are low and Totterdown has always been very popular.”

    “I think we will see prices fall a bit more yet.

    “Prices in Bristol went up more than the average during the boom.”

    Lisa Costa, senior manager at Alder King in Thornbury High Street, said: “We have been doing very well. November and December is always quiet anyway and now homes are selling quite quickly again.”

    “I was instructed on a three-bedroomed detached property in Stone on March 8 and it sold in 11 days to the first person who saw it.

    “It sold at ten per cent below the asking price but the vendor is delighted because they have offered on the house that they want.”

    A four-bedroomed detached home in Almondsbury sold within a month.

    Sarah Turner sales manager at Hunter Leahy in Nailsea, which covers Nailsea, Backwell and the surrounding North Somerset villages, said: “There are signs of recovery. We had good sales in January and February and it looks like March will follow suit.”

    “People looking for investment property are coming back to the market. There are a lot of cash buyers and people with large deposits who were waiting for prices to bottom out.

    “There are some fantastic deals to be had.”

    First time buyers make up a quarter of all property buyers.

    The average price for a flat is now £136,247, down by £11,520 from the 2007 peak.

    The average terraced house costs £168,744, a reduction of 7.1 per cent and the average semi-detached home is now £205,546. Two years ago such a home in Bristol would have cost more than £230,000.

    According to Nationwide, house prices have fallen 18 per cent from their peak two years ago, which was triggered by lenders.

    The latest report by Residential Research Savills said: “The worst of the falls in the residential property market could be over soon.

    “Further price falls are expected but changing market conditions mean that the rate of fall may not be as great as it has been.

    “There are emerging signs that the housing market is reaching the end of its free-fall period, so we could now be about to enter the latter stages of house price falls and be on the brink of the first stage in the recovery process.

    “Anecdotal market evidence suggests that the interest from cash buyers is already much higher and that good-quality stock is being taken up, leaving a shortage of supply in some cases.”

    This Is Bristol 19.3.09