Signs that the housing market in parts of Scotland may now be "over the very worst" have been reported by surveyors.
House sales look set to continue to rise over the next quarter, said the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics).
A balance of 8% more surveyors in Scotland predicted transactions to rise rather than fall over the next three months.
The findings are contained in Rics's housing market survey for December, which concluded that the positive outlook comes at a time when confidence is growing. In other findings, surveyors report that prices continue to fall, with a balance of 19% more surveyors reporting a decrease in prices rather than a rise.
But a more positive view of the price outlook between now and March is reported, with 5% more respondents predicting rises over the next three months. With transactions expected to increase, demand from would-be buyers remained positive last month with the number of homes coming up for sale also increasing, the study finds.
Thomas Baird, of Select Surveyors, told the study: "The market is traditionally slow during the start of the new year. However, I would expect this year to show an increase in the number of home report instructions."
Peter Bennet, of Graham & Sibbald Kirkcaldy, told researchers: "Whilst the first-time buyer market still remains an issue, good-quality and the sensibly priced properties remain fairly active."
Graham Tonner, also of Graham & Sibbald, said: "As ever the December market has been slow for properties coming to the market, and this has been the case since the introduction of the home report. Good sales in December may inspire a busier January."
Sarah Speirs, Rics Scotland director, said: "As we start the new year, confidence in the housing market does appear to be improving, with Rics members predicting that transaction levels will continue to increase in many parts of Scotland.
"However, despite these tentative signs of recovery in the sales market, more still needs to be done to ensure potential buyers can access the market at every level."