New buyer enquiries in the housing market increased for the sixth consecutive month in April, according to the latest survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

The survey found that 41% more chartered surveyors reported a rise than a fall in new buyer enquiries – up from 32% in March and the highest figure for almost a decade. Some 70% more chartered surveyors reported a rise than a fall in London, up from 63% in March.

“Some of this interest is translating into sales but transactions still remain at low levels,” the RICS said.

Surveyors sold an average of 10.6 properties over the past three months, up from 9.7, while the balance of newly agreed sales continued to rise with the surveyors in most regions expecting the trend to continue.

“This is the first time that surveyors have been universally optimistic about sales since August 2006,” it said.

Other good news includes the level of bank lending to small businesses rising by £271m in March, according to figures from the British Bankers Association (BBA).

“The stock of lending to small businesses is around 5% higher than a year ago and has risen in each of the first three months of 2009, reflecting general banking support and individual bank pledges to make finance available,” said BBA statistics director David Dooks.

Meanwhile, the Building Societies Association said mortgage approvals by building societies in March doubled to £1.54bn compared with the previous month. Even adjusted for seasonal influences, the figure is the highest since last November.