RICS: Number of home listings fall

Michael Lloyd

October 10, 2019

The number of home listings have dropped with Brexit putting people off selling, the RICS Residential Market Survey has found.

The new instructions net balance fell to -37% in September, the weakest reading since June 2016.

As such average stock levels on estate agents’ books remain near record lows.

Simon Rubinsohn, chief economist at RICS, said: “There are good reasons for thinking the latest dip in both buyer enquiries and vendor instructions is a response to the endless wrangling about Brexit, as the October 31 deadline approaches.

“Indeed, much of the commentary from respondents based further away from London and the South East remains relatively sanguine, which is also reflected in some of the metrics capturing expectations.

“However, unless there is a speedy resolution to the ongoing impasse it does seem inevitable that the stand-off between purchasers and sellers will deepen making it harder to complete transactions.

“This will not only be a direct hit on the housing market itself but could have ramifications for the wider economy as the normal spend on furniture, fittings and appliances that typically accompanies a house move is also put on hold.”

Buyers are becoming more cautious. After holding steady in the last four months, the new buyer enquiries net balance fell to -15%.

And newly agreed sales fell, with a net balance of -27%, down from -11%, with activity reportedly slipping in virtually all parts of the UK.

Sales expectations stand at -9%, suggesting sales will remain subdued in the coming three months.

Looking ahead, price expectations for the coming three months stand at -16% pointing to a modest decline on a UK-wide basis.

However, the 12-month outlook points to a turnaround, with 18% more surveyors expecting prices to rise over the coming year.

In the lettings market, demand from prospective tenants has risen for an eighth month in a row.

However landlord instructions continue to drop with demand still outstripping supply. Rent expectations for the coming three months remain positive with a net balance of 24%.

David Smith, policy director for the Residential Landlords Association, added: “Today’s figures demonstrate what we have long predicted, namely that because of recent tax hikes on the sector and threats to remove Section 21 repossessions without putting proper alternatives into place, landlords are not investing in new homes to rent, leading to demand outstripping supply.

“This only serves to hurt tenants as they face less choice and higher rents.

“Given how clear the evidence is the government urgently needs to change course, and end those tax measures which are choking off investment in new homes to rent.”

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