South West house sales hit the highest level in more than six years after increased lending through mortgages released "pent-up" demand in the market, estate agents have said.
The number of homes sold across the region in the run up to Christmas was at the highest point since the market crashed in 2007, according to a new survey.
Sales completed per chartered surveyor branch averaged 22 during the final quarter of 2013 compared to just nine at the low point of the economic downturn, the Royal Institute for Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said.
The figures come amid expectations of rising sales activity this year, which hit record levels last month, including a ten-year high in confidence that prices would climb.
Peter Bolton King, RICS global residential director, said the housing market was "starting to thrive once more".
"Growing availability of affordable mortgages has released some pent-up demand from a market that, in recent years, has seen many viable buyers unable to enter the market," he added.
"On the face of it, this seems like good news but 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."
The data, from December's RICS Residential Market Survey, was up fractionally on the previous rolling three-month period, from September to November, which saw an average of 21 sales, despite lack of stock coming onto the market.
However, with only around 7 per cent of residential estate agents registered as chartered surveyors, the figures provide only a snapshot of the improving conditions.
Richard Copus, chairman of the National Association of Estate Agents in the South West, said sales of around seven each month – one or two every week – chimed with his members' reports.
He added: "The good news at the moment is we have got more people buying and stability in the market.
"We just need more houses coming on to the market to satisfy demand as there are quite a few frustrated buyers out there.
"I don't think we will see the kind of price rises in London, where a lot of people are chasing too few houses and are prepared to pay through the nose – here they are just edging up 1 per cent or 2 per cent.
"I think people's attitudes have changed since the days people bought homes to make a quick buck."
Figures published yesterday by the Council of Mortgage Lenders showed lending up more than a third in a year.