Signs of improvement in the North East housing market have come with a range of new figures.
House prices are continuing to rise in the region, with buyers getting closer to their asking price and homes selling quicker than for some time - on average going in just over eight weeks.
New figures from Hometrack show that would-be homeowners in the North East are now paying 95.5% of the value asked for.
But housing experts say it is too soon to celebrate and that it could be dangerous to become overconfident that the housing market is on the up.
Average time to sell (weeks)
Change in number of new buyers (%)
Sales price as % of asking price
Greater London (highest)
Neil Foster, a director of Foster Addison estate agents in Newcastle, said while positive, the market still has a long way to go yet.
“Transaction times are certainly improving, but that has been gradual over the past 12 months and was from a very low starting point - it may have been an average of 25 or 26 weeks and it’s been a long way to climb to two months.
“As for the issue of price achieved, I’d concur that we’ve seen less of the discounting culture over the last quarter and actually for most of 2013. However I don’t think that is indicative of house price inflation.
“Buyers are becoming more confident of buying at the price asked and are not looking for large discounts as an incentive to buy.
“Also a lot of the older housing stock, which may have been valued in 2007, and whose price did not fit with the current conditions, has gone, and people are more confident the prices now being asked are reasonable.”
Monthly price change (%)
Monthly change in sales agreed (%)
Monthly change in listings
England and Wales average
Mr Foster said that the figures showing a monthly rise in prices could be skewed by one or two high value sales, and that there were still not enough houses being sold to try and judge the market on anything more than a quarterly basis.
“The market is pretty stable and the best thing that can happen is that it stays that way. We’ve seen no great upthrust in the economy, with no new major inward investment and wealth like in London.
“We could destroy the market if expectations are too much ‘on the up’ and mortgage availability could yet go off a cliff after last Friday’s changes.”
Mr Foster also warned that one reason for prices seeming to rise in the North East may simply be that too few houses are being listed - a notion backed up by Hometrack’s figures that the number of would-be buyers rose by 6.7% in April, but the number of homes on offer increased just 1.4%.
“When I look on the internet on a Saturday to see what has been listed on a Friday, there is still not enough houses coming up for sale,” Mr Foster said. “It’s nowhere near where it should be - but the number of people looking has almost doubled since the second quarter in 2013. We’ve a way to go yet.”
Nationally buyers are now paying 96.7% of the asking price for properties, the highest level since September 2002, while in the North East it is 95.5%.
And the average time to sell a house is now 8.4 weeks in the North East - faster than in Yorkshire and Humberside, and both the West and East Midlands.