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First spike in new buyer interest since 2016

Written by: John Fitzsimons
Buyers are beginning to look beyond Brexit where they can see value in a property, but house prices are flatlining
First spike in new buyer interest since 2016

The housing market is looking more “stable” according to the latest Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), with its latest residential market survey reporting a rise in interest among new buyers.

Around 10 per cent more respondents reported an increase in interest from new buyers than a fall, the first time the survey has seen a rise at the national level since November 2016.

In addition a two per cent net balance of surveyors reported an increase in sales in June, the first time survey participants have not reported a decline in ten months.

Sales expectations for the coming quarter suggest the “stable trend” is likely to continue, according to RICS, with 12-month sales expectations also positive.

While RICS said that activity was beginning to settle down, it warned that house price movement “appears to be flatlining” at the national level. On a regional basis, all parts of the country saw house price growth bar London, the South East and the East of England.

On the lettings side, RICS reported a drop in supply of rental properties coming onto the market for 20th month in a row.

It noted that rents are expected to rise by 3.6 per cent per year over the next five years, compared to the 2.7 per cent increase in house prices projected.

Simon Rubinsohn, chief economist at RICS, said that while the data suggested the sales market was “settling down”, this was not fueling hope of a “significantly more active market going forward”.

“Many of the factors that have provided a challenge during the first half of the year remain unresolved,” he concluded.

Looking beyond Brexit

Jeremy Leaf, former RICS residential chairman and an estate agent, said that this was an expected seasonal increase, with buyers looking beyond Brexit and the current political situation “but only if they can perceive value”.

He added: “Nevertheless, we’re not seeing a substantial increase in activity yet, despite more valuation requests and listings. Many sellers are still struggling to come to terms with the new market reality of softening prices as well as fewer viewings and offers.”

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