HOUSEHUNTERS returned to the UK housing market in January as demand figures reached a six-month high, according to the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA).

The NAEA market report for January showed gains across both supply and demand for housing compared with December, although this remains in-line with figures from the same time last year.

The number of people registering with estate agents to buy property improved from an average of 227 in December to 252 in January however this is still down on January 2010’s figure of 291.

While both the end of the holiday season and back-log in demand following December’s big freeze helped to boost activity in January, this latest reports suggests there is still a considerable number of consumers reluctant to enter the market.

The number of houses available for sale increased from 64 per branch in December to 69 per branch in January indicating that demand for property can be met in the short-term, which will ensure stability.

The average agent sold six properties in January compared to four in December. The NAEA President said “Macro-economic issues such as the VAT rise and interest rate pressures continue to put many people off searching for property. What we need to see now is the FSA using its newly-gained powers of oversight to ease mortgage lending restrictions that are preventing so many first time buyers from entering the housing market.”