Housing market activity remains subdued

Michael Lloyd

March 8, 2018

New buyer enquiries, instructions and sales continued to drift lower in February, the RICS UK Residential Market Survey has found.

Enquiries fell for an 11th successive month, with 16% more surveyors seeing a fall rather than rise in enquiries.

Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said: “The consultation announced earlier this week on housing delivery put the onus squarely on developers and planning departments to up their game to lift the supply pipeline, but the feedback to the latest RICS Residential Market Survey casts some doubt as to whether this will be sufficient to address the challenge.

“Significantly, the longer-term national house price indicator has begun to creep upwards once again in recent months despite the current somewhat mixed climate and the private rent series also remains firm, in both cases pointing to increases of at least 15% over the next five years.”

New buyer enquiries increased in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Yorkshire and Humberside in February.

The number of enquiries from new buyers fell in London and the South East as well as the East Midlands, though they were flat in most other regions.

Rubinsohn added: “Meanwhile, the divergent regional picture is becoming increasingly pronounced with key RICS indicators across huge swathes of the country still showing considerable resilience but data for London, the South East and East Anglia rather more subdued.”

RICS said there is a lack of choice of properties to purchase, with the new instructions indicator falling once again, recording its lowest reading since May 2017.

This has pushed the average stocks (per branch) on the books of agents to a new record low of just under 42.

Available stock levels also look unlikely to improve, with 15% more respondents indicating that the number of valuation appraisals being undertaken in February were lower than a year earlier.

The national price balance was flat in February which is the ninth month in a row that contributors have reported little change in headline prices.

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