Surveyors sold fewer homes per agency in the three months to January than at any time in the past 30 years, according to the latest monthly survey from the RICS.

The average number of transactions, at 9.9 for each office over the past three months, is down only marginally from 10 in December. Nevertheless, the profession has noted such a large rise in inquiries from potential buyers that it is decidedly optimistic.

Those surveyors reporting a rise in new-buyer inquiries rose last month to 16% more than those reporting a fall. That compares with 37% more surveyors reporting a drop in inquiries in January last year. In London, the turnround was even more dramatic, with 38% more surveyors saying the number of inquiries rose, up from 1% more saying they were falling back in July 2008.

Anecdotal comments from London agents in the survey suggest that the weak pound is spurring interest from continental buyers who would be paying in euros.

Surveyors blamed the continuing mortgage drought for preventing keen buyers from taking advantage of lower prices.

Financial Times, The Times