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Agents report deepening housing market gloom as buyer enquiries fall for 12th consecutive month

Land Insight to 17 April NS
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Buyer demand has now fallen continuously for a full year, estate agents who are members of RICS have reported.

A gloomy RICS UK Residential Market Survey for March showed 17% more respondents saw new buyer enquiries fall than rise, a 12th consecutive month of negativity.

Sales were also down, with 20% more reporting a drop than a rise, continuing a trend since February 2017.

The report said low demand was compounded by the lack of fresh stock coming on to the market.

Last month the flow of properties slowed once again, the report shows, marking the seventh consecutive month respondents reported a fall in the number of houses being put up for sale. As such, average stock levels on estate agents’ books remain near an all-time low at around 42 properties per branch.

Just over half (55%) of respondents in London also reported a rise in the number of properties being withdrawn from the market compared with this time last year, with anecdotal evidence suggesting this reflects the differing expectations of buyers and sellers.

There was some optimism about the future, with 17% more positive about an increase in sales over the next year, but that was down from 34% previously.

Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said: “The latest RICS results provide little encouragement that the drop in housing market activity is likely to be reversed any time soon.

“Apart from the implications this has for the market itself, it also has the potential to impact the wider economy, contributing to a softer trend in household spending.

“This could make Bank of England deliberations around a May hike in interest rates, which is pretty much odds-on at the moment, a little more finely balanced than would otherwise be the case.

“The downshift in sales for the time being continues to be more visible in London and the south-east, with many other parts of the country continuing to show rather greater resilience.

“Feedback on expectations regarding transactions suggest this divergence will persist over the coming months.”

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Source:: Agents report deepening housing market gloom as buyer enquiries fall for 12th consecutive month