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Gloom and doom survey from RICS prompts misery fest among headline writers

The RICS’s gloomy housing market survey predictably triggered some ‘world about to end’ headlines.

The Telegraph reported it under the heading: “Housing market grinds to a halt as number of homes on market hits record low.”

Not to be outdone, Bloomberg carried the story under the headline: “London Housing in Deepest Slump Since the Financial Crisis” [the use of capital letters somehow managed to make it seem even worse].

However, the problem with these sorts of headlines is that they tend to become self-fulfilling prophecies.

Furthermore, not everyone agrees that housing supply has dried up to a new low, with 43 unsold properties on an agent’s books during March, according to the RICS.

According to the property website Home, which takes its data from portals including Rightmove and Zoopla, the low was actually reached some while ago.

Since then, the amount of available stock has been gradually creeping upwards – largely because of stock levels increasing in London.

Home says that the low was in January 2016, with 386,000 homes for sale; by March, the number had inched up to 413,000 – as we reported last week.

Doug Shephard, director of Home, continues to stick by his numbers.

He told us: “Stock levels are slowly growing overall after the low in January 2016. This is mainly due to the slowdown in the London market, coupled with an increase in supply in the capital region.

“We expect this trend to continue through the rest of 2017.”

The chart below may not make for the happiest of pictures. Inventory is a very long way short of ten years ago.

But, if nothing else, it provides a useful snapshot – and definitely one to watch.

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