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Home sales fall in most UK regions

Christina Hoghton
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Christina Hoghton

A drop in buyer demand caused the housing market to stutter its way through October

Demand for housing continues to deteriorate, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Subdued sales trends are now being reported by the association’s members across the UK, with London, the South East and high value homes nationally seeing the most dramatic slumps.

Allan Fuller, of Allan Fuller Estate Agents in Putney, London, said: “We usually have buyers registering, keen to move before Christmas. So far we are registering 80% less than normal during October. Sellers are more receptive to price drops and some are agreeing to 10% reductions, which are then attracting interest.”

RICS noted that 70% of respondents to its monthly survey said that homes valued at £1m+ are now being sold for less than asking price.

Softening sales

Both demand and sales continue to soften at the national level, said RICS, with most regions displaying a flat to negative trend.

As a result, surveyors are cautious about the future, with the three-month gauge of price expectations negative for the third month on the run. Those in London were the most cautious about the market ahead, but the bearish sentiment has spread to five other English regions.

It’s also taking longer to complete a sale, with the average time rising to 18.5 weeks nationally, up from 16.6 in February 2017.

Simon Rubinsohn, chief economist of RICS, said: “The combination of the increased cost of moving, a lack of fresh stock coming to the market, uncertainly over the political climate and now an interest rate hike appears to be taking its toll on activity in the housing market.

“With both buyer enquiries slipping and sales expectations also subdued, the sense is that home owners are staying put and first time purchasers are increasingly focusing on that part of the market supported by the Help to Buy incentive. A stagnant second-hand market is bad news for the wider economy, not just in terms of spending but also because it restricts mobility.”