Five questions answered on the rise in UK home sales

Is this trend set to continue?

A survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) has revealed that the amount of houses sold per surveyor has more than doubled since 2009. We answer five questions on the survey's findings.

How many more house sales are there now compared to 2009?

In January 2009, 9.8 houses were sold per estate agency branch. In the last three months of 2013 this rose to just over 21 sales per estate agency branch – a rise of just over 11 houses per surveyor. This is the highest number since March 2008.

What can this rise in UK house sales be attributed to?

According to Rics, the rise has come from an increasing availability of affordable mortgages and "pent-up" demand from a market that has seen many viable buyers unable to enter the market in recent years.

Is this trend set to continue?

According to the surveyors interviewed in the survey, prices and sales are going to keep rising.

What else has Rics said?

The institute added that unless more properties are built, prices could continue to rise.

Peter Bolton King, global residential director at Rics, said: "Unless we see a marked increase in the number of homes coming up for sale we could well be looking at a price rises becoming unsustainable in some areas."

What has the building industry said about this?

According to Bovis Homes, which released a statement today, the number of new homes being built is rising and they are also seeing an increase in forward sales.

David Ritchie, Chief Executive of Bovis Homes, said: "2013 was another successful year for Bovis Homes. Our forward order book is in its best position for many years."

The company’s average sale price was up 14 per cent to £195,100.

What have the experts said?

Lucian Cook, head of residential research at property adviser, Savills, told the Telegraph: "The positive sentiment in the housing market is likely to result in further increases in transactions in 2014. But with the mortgage market review looming, they could remain well below the pre-crunch norm and heavily weighted to those with equity."

Howard Archer of IHS Global Insight, also told the publication: "There is a real danger that house prices could really take off over the coming months."

Construction work at Elvetham Heath, Hampshire. Photograph: Getty Images.

Heidi Vella is a features writer for

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Jeremy Corbyn challenged by Labour MPs to sack Ken Livingstone from defence review

Former mayor of London criticised at PLP meeting over comments on 7 July bombings. 

After Jeremy Corbyn's decision to give Labour MPs a free vote over air strikes in Syria, tonight's Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) meeting was less fractious than it could have been. But one grandee was still moved to declare that the "ferocity" of the attacks on the leader made it the most "uplifting" he had attended.

Margaret Beckett, the former foreign secretary, told the meeting: "We cannot unite the party if the leader's office is determined to divide us." Several MPs said afterwards that many of those who shared Corbyn's opposition to air strikes believed he had mishandled the process by appealing to MPs over the heads of the shadow cabinet and then to members. David Winnick declared that those who favoured military action faced a "shakedown" and deselection by Momentum activists. "It is completely unacceptable. They are a party within a party," he said of the Corbyn-aligned group. The "huge applause" for Hilary Benn, who favours intervention, far outweighed that for the leader, I'm told. 

There was also loud agreement when Jack Dromey condemned Ken Livingstone for blaming Tony Blair's invasion of Iraq for the 7 July 2005 bombings. Along with Angela Smith MP, Dromey demanded that Livingstone be sacked as the co-chair of Labour's defence review. Significantly, Benn said aftewards that he agreed with every word Dromey had said. Corbyn's office has previously said that it is up to the NEC, not the leader, whether the former London mayor holds the position. In reference to 7 July, an aide repeated Corbyn's statement that he preferred to "remember the brilliant words Ken used after 7/7". 

As on previous occasions, MPs complained that the leader failed to answer the questions that were put to him. A shadow minister told me that he "dodged" one on whether he believed the UK should end air strikes against Isis in Iraq. In reference to Syria, a Corbyn aide said afterwards that "There was significant support for the leader. There was a wide debate, with people speaking on both sides of the arguments." After David Cameron's decision to call a vote on air strikes for Wednesday, leaving only a day for debate, the number of Labour MPs backing intervention is likely to fall. One shadow minister told me that as few as 40-50 may back the government, though most expect the total to be closer to the original figure of 99. 

At the end of another remarkable day in Labour's history, a Corbyn aide concluded: "It was always going to be a bumpy ride when you have a leader who was elected by a large number outside parliament but whose support in the PLP is quite limited. There are a small number who find it hard to come to terms with that result."

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.