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Transactions to fall in 2017 but Housing White Paper could be ‘defining moment’ – RICS

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RICS has described the release of the long awaited Housing White Paper next month as a “defining moment” for 2017.

Jeremy Blackburn, head of policy for RICS, said the document would show if “more radical thinking in Whitehall is a reality”.

He said: “The UK needs a co-ordinated strategy for building across tenures, using all of the delivery and technology mechanisms at our disposal.

“Before the EU Referendum, David Cameron said that if he could have found the button in No 10 to increase house building he would have pushed it repeatedly.

“In truth there are multiple buttons and following on from housing being put at the top of the list of Theresa May’s priority list in 2017, current Government needs to demonstrate a plan of action.”

It comes as the RICS annual housing market forecast expected transactions in 2016 to come in pretty flat at 1.25m and fall further in 2017, with most blaming buy-to-let changes rather than Brexit for the slip.

A net balance of 60% more conveyancers pinpointed the buy-to-let sector as the most pronounced fall in new purchasers registering with estate agents in the three months to August, while first-time buyer inquiries have only slightly declined.

In recent months more surveyors have reported increasing new buyer inquiries which RICS says will feed into more transactions in the first half of 2017, but overall it is anticipating transactions coming in slightly down at between 1.15 and 1.2m.

But the forecast warns this could be skewed further by drops in stock, a weakening economic climate and more uncertainty over Brexit negotiations.

Looking at house prices, rents are forecast to increase 2-3% while conveyancers are expecting an average increase of 3%, led by East Anglia, the North-West and the West Midlands.

Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said: “Although recent announcements by the Government on housing are very welcome, the ongoing shortfall of stock across much of the sales and lettings markets is set to continue to underpin prices and rents.

“As a result, the affordability challenge will remain very much to the fore for many.

“Meanwhile the lack of existing inventory in the market is impacting the ability of households to move and will contribute toward transaction activity over the whole of 2017 being a little lower than in the year just ending.”

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Source:: Transactions to fall in 2017 but Housing White Paper could be ‘defining moment’ – RICS