Page last updated at 03:50 GMT, Saturday, 18 July 2009 04:50 UK

'Upturn signs' in housing market

For sale signs
Chancellor Alistair Darling is to meet banks to encourage more lending

The housing market is showing the first signs of an upturn since 2006, the Home Builders Federation (HBF) has said.

The body's survey of Britain's major home builders found 60% of those asked had seen an increase in sales compared to the same time last year.

The HBF says the industry has been through the economic equivalent of a tsunami, with an estimated 250,000 construction jobs lost in a year.

It says the biggest hurdle to recovery is now the availability of mortgages.

Chancellor Alistair Darling is to meet with the banks next week to remind them of their legally-binding obligation to lend more money to homebuyers.

Steve Turner, spokesman for the HBF, said the survey results were a welcome boost.

Confidence is slowly coming back because people have got to move on with their lives
James Corcoran

"It's been a very difficult year, but what we are starting to see is a consistent set of modest but positive results now in terms of visitor levels, in terms of reservations.

"I think for the first time in a number of months the industry is starting to feel more positive."

But BBC correspondent Keith Doyle said experts were warning that the industry was still fragile because although new home sales had increased, they were at an extremely low level last year.

James Corcoran, who is a few weeks away from completing on a new home, said he felt it was the right time to buy.

"Confidence is slowly coming back because people have got to move on with their lives - like myself.

"I've got a young family and need to move so I'm comfortable that the decision I've made is the right one for me and my family."

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