A leading Manchester estate agent hopes an influx of white collar workers will help jump-start the British city centre's new homes market, which stalled during the first half of this year. Prices are at a standstill. Elisabeth Williams, head of new home sales at estate agent Savills' Manchester office, said: 'Prices have not risen so far this year. We are no longer seeing 100 units sold in a week as we did in the better weeks of the boom. We are now back to the traditional pattern of selling one or two a week. 'Developers are working much harder to get that competitive edge. They are working hard to make blocks aesthetically pleasing.' She said demand was dominated by investors and retired, middle-aged buyers who spent much of their time living abroad. This second group of buyers now account for 20 per cent of demand. They are sometimes referred to as 'empty nesters' because they sell their family homes to buy flats once their children leave home. Ms Williams said they favoured quality, large, two-bedroom flats with a study and roof terrace in a price range of GBP350,000 ($4.81 million) to GBP400,000. Prices for one-bedroom flats in the city centre averaged GBP145,000, while prices for two-bedroom flats averaged GBP210,000. Ms Williams said she hoped demand from owner-occupiers would rise towards the end of the year, when large corporations were expected to bring in more staff to expand their operations in the city. 'Next year, the BBC will move 1,500 staff to the city which will have an effect,' Ms Williams said. 'The Bank of New York will open an office of 50 people by the end of this year, then recruit more later.' The availability of property is growing, partly boosted by the emergence of a secondary market in city centre homes. 'We have a resale market in competition with new projects and new supply will be increasing,' Ms Williams said. A 60-storey tower of 750 apartments is being built next to Piccadilly station. Construction will begin later this year or early next. Pathfinder is creating 1,000 units at Knotts Mill and sales will start this year. There were also seven to eight schemes of 80 to 150 units proposed for construction over the next couple of years, Ms Williams said. However, developers were trying to limit the impact of this new construction on the market.