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Lack of homes to buy poses bigger threat to market than rate rise

Christina Hoghton
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Christina Hoghton

Demand from homebuyers remains strong and competition for properties is driving up prices

Declining numbers of new homes listed for sale could pose a bigger threat to housing market activity than an increase in interest rates next year, warns the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

The majority of RICS surveyors have reported another month of declining new listings and agreed sales have fallen for the fifth consecutive month.

At the same time, the volume of valuations carried out in November was below that seen in the same month last year.

Surveyors were slightly upbeat about the prospects for sales over the coming three months, however, with net balance of 15 per cent of those surveyed optimistic in the near term. Looking 12-months ahead sales expectations there was a net balance of 12 per cent moderately positive about sales.

Demand from homebuyers, meanwhile, remained strong. A net balance of 13 per cent of surveyors reported an increase in new buyer enquiries during November, a small increase on the previous month.

Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said: “The issue of supply is gathering ever more importance in the feedback to the RICS Residential Market survey.

“Unless this trend is reversed soon, transaction levels may flatline in 2022 with limited choice proving more significant than any shift in the interest rate environment for new buyers.”

The lack of homes being put up for sale was a significant factor holding back the market across the country, said surveyors, with a net balance of -18 per cent reporting a decline for the eighth month in a row.

Competition among buyers for the homes that are available is continuing to drive prices up.

According to Halifax, average UK house prices have reached a new high of £272,992, up by more than £20,000 compared to the same period last year.

The index revealed that this is the fifth straight month that average house prices have risen, and it is the second consecutive month where prices have breached £270,000.

Rubinsohn added: “The imbalance compared to the demand trend is likely to continue to be a key factor supporting prices and indeed, even if the cost of mortgage finance does begin to edge up, it is likely that house prices will continue to move higher through the coming year, albeit at a somewhat slower pace than over the past twelve months.”