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NAEA: ‘Sales jump shows confidence is returning’

The return of first-time buyers to the market, noted in January, also held firm, dropping just 1% from 25 to 24 as a percentage of total sales.

In general, the market held strong in the first two months of the year, suggesting that it has plateaued.

Chris Brown, President of the National Association of Estate Agents, said: "This sales increase is a real boost for a beleaguered market.

"It shows that the demand identified by the NAEA is slowly but surely translating into sales.

"The housing market has had a devastating year, but now prices are lower than they have been for a long time and there are bargains to be had.

"These little signs all add up to a glimmer of light at the end of what has been a long and difficult tunnel."

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