First-time Buyers

Surveyors report 16-month sales high

Paula John
Written By:
Paula John

House sales picked up across the UK in September, reaching a 16-month high, according to the monthly market survey by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

RICS’ UK Residential Market Survey found that prices increased across all parts of the UK with agreed sales rising at the fastest rate since May 2014 and buyer demand outweighing instructions to sell.

The North, East Anglia and Scotland posted the sharpest rises in activity in September with the East Midlands the only region to see a material drop in sales albeit following an increase in the region in August.

RICS said the stronger sales trend in the UK is broadly reflective of an upturn in demand which has been visible in the data since the early spring. The number of new buyer enquiries rose for a sixth consecutive month across the country with 18 per cent more chartered surveyors reporting a rise in demand.

The pattern being seen by surveyors echoes recent lending data including that highlighted by the Bank of England, showing mortgage approvals at an 18-month high and up 12 per cent compared to a year ago.

Brian Murphy, head of lending at Mortgage Advice Bureau (MAB), said that with house prices still rising, record low mortgage rates and significantly improved product availability, it’s no surprise there has been a pick-up in housing activity.

“However, the market is not without its hurdles – the deficiency of available homes still threatens to derail recent progress,” he said. “The number of new property listings has now fallen for 13 of the past 14 months, with a lack of stock cited as the main deterrent for would-be movers. A healthy housing market has movement all the way up the property chain, and this trend threatens to cause a logjam that will make it harder for first-time buyers to become homeowners.”

Andy Sommerville, director of conveyancing search services firm Search Acumen, said that low interest rates and lenders’ eagerness to hit their year-end targets have both been key factors in the surge of agreed property sales, along with the improving economy.

“The backdrop of a potential base rate rise in the future is also likely to propel more eager buyers to the market before the end of 2015,” he said, “It’s especially encouraging for first time buyers to see credit conditions improving – a second piece of good news to accompany this week’s government pledge to get private sector developers on board with building affordable homes for purchase.”