HOUSE prices will remain largely unchanged in 2013 with properties likely to be snapped up sooner rather than later, according to Taunton’s estate agents, who are optimistic about a prosperous new year.

Newer firms Robert Cooney and Chris Willey & Son have both reported promising growth in 2012, while long-established agent Greenslade Taylor Hunt sold 15% more properties than in 2011.

High-end specialists Jackson-Stops & Staff said that despite the challenges faced by the market, they were still able to shift a number of good quality properties with price tags ranging from £300,000 to £4million.

Having only been trading in the town since 2010, Robert Cooney said he was delighted to start the new year with a full diary despite widespread flooding largely quashing sales in the last two months of 2012.

“The back end of the year was a bit of a damp squib, having been pretty good right the way through until then,” said Mr Cooney, who added that the summer was a particular boom period for sales despite predictions that the Jubilee and Olympics would stifle sales.

“We’re very optimistic for this year, though we expect a straight line in terms of values.”

Mark Savill, of Novahomes, said lenders will be far more inclined to offer mortgages in 2013 as a result of the Government’s Funding for Lending initiative, whereby the Bank of England will lend money at below-market rates.

Land registry figures show a total of 416 properties were sold in Taunton Deane from July to September last year with the average house price for the area being £217,521.

In West Somerset, that figure was £233,145 and in Sedgemoor it was £196,844.

Family business Chris Willey & Son said it had worked hard to advise clients on suitable asking prices and would continue to do so in 2013.

“There’s an old adage among estate agents that goes ‘There’s nothing wrong with a property that price won’t cure’, and that’s nearly always true,” said Mr Willey.

That sentiment was echoed by Michael Dukes, partner at Greenslade Taylor Hunt, who said: “Properties don’t tend to remain on the market for too long unless they’re poorly presented, over-priced or both.

“I think the number of weeks and months it takes for sales to go through will reduce this year, and that’s a trend we detected last summer and autumn.”

Brian Bishop, of Jackson-Stops & Staff’s Taunton office, said: “All the indications are that prices will level with very little change, and this may well give people confidence to go forward to buy and encourage sellers to go to market where they may have been hesitant to do so last year.”