Jump in new home registrations
The house-building industry has reported a significant jump in the number of new homes being registered.
The National House-Builders Council (NHBC) said the number of new homes being planned had risen by 22% over the last year.
The figures compare the first three months of 2013 with the same period in 2012.
Registrations rose by 61% in London and by 74% on Merseyside, but fell in Scotland and Northern Ireland.
House-builders have to pay several hundred pounds when they register a new home, so it is seen as a serious intention to go ahead with the build.
"We're not getting over-excited by these figures," said Neil Jefferson of the NHBC.
"But we are seeing a sustained increase in the intention to build. Builders are getting more confident," he told the BBC.More to do
House-building in London has been boosted by a development on the old Battersea power station site. More than 800 new homes were registered there in the first quarter.
The figures for Merseyside are from a very low base: 643 homes were registered there in the first quarter of 2013, compared with 369 last year.
Every region in England and Wales reported an increase, even in areas where prices are falling, such as the North-East of England.
However, registrations fell by 9% in Northern Ireland and 4% in Scotland.
Even in those regions, the NHBC reports that sentiment amongst builders is much improved.
"In Northern Ireland, a market that was particularly badly hit in the financial crisis, people are feeling better about site visits and sales," said Mr Jefferson.
Total registrations for the UK were 25,998 in the first quarter of 2013.
While that is a significant increase, it is only half the number of homes that were being registered in the peak years of 2006 and 2007.Help to Buy
Builders expect a further boost to the market when the government's Help to Buy scheme gets underway.
The first phase of the scheme will allow buyers to put down a deposit of just 5%, with the government taking an equity stake in the value of the home.
Earlier this year, the Communities Secretary, Eric Pickles, said house-building was likely to rise by 11% this year.
Government figures suggest that 132,000 new homes were built last year.
The Future Homes Commission, set up by the Royal Institute of British Architects, has said the country needs 300,000 new homes annually.