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Buyer demand down for tenth month in a row

Christina Hoghton
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Christina Hoghton

House prices are lower and more sellers are accepting offers below the original asking price

Buyer demand has fallen for the tenth consecutive month, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ (RICS) February report.

The RICS addded that the average time taken to complete home sales continues to rise and is now approaching 19 weeks.

It said that house prices fell too, and agents expect them to trend lower over the next 12 months.

Sold properties discounted

The trade association also asked surveyors about the difference between asking and sales prices in the current climate.

In the mainstream market (covering prices up to £500k), around 60% of respondents said prices were being agreed at below the asking price. For properties priced between £500k and £1 million, this jumped to just over 70%.

Tarrant Parsons, senior economist at the RICS, said: “The housing market continues to adjust to the tighter lending climate, with stretched mortgage affordability still weighing heavily on activity.

“Given the ongoing weakness in demand, house prices remain on a downward trajectory, and are expected to see further falls through the first half of the year at least.

“Going forward, near-term expectations suggest market activity will remain generally subdued over the coming months, although the latest survey feedback shows tentative signs that the ongoing decline in buyer enquiries is now moderating.”

Sarah Coles, head of personal finance at Hargreaves Lansdown, added: “Buyer and seller numbers continued to drop, agreed sales fell, and prices were on their way down. In order to shift properties, most people are now having to accept an offer. Despite pockets of enthusiasm, these aren’t signs of a rising market.

“When you add in the Bank of England’s figures showing rock bottom levels of mortgage approvals in January, it means we may well see more decline in the months to come.”