Surveyors report a nation of buyers and sellers ‘holding back’

Christina Hoghton
Written By:
Christina Hoghton

The overall market is subdued but there is pent-up demand going into 2020

The UK’s surveyors have reported a nation “holding back” from buying a home or selling up, as today’s General Election and its effect on Brexit weigh heavily on the market.

Across the country, new buyer enquiries in November fell for the third month in a row to a net balance of -9 per cent.

The net balance is the proportion of surveyors reporting a rise in new buyer enquiries, for example, minus those reporting a fall.

Newly agreed sales also continued to fall, but at a slower pace than in previous months, dropping eight per cent in November, compared to -18 per cent in October and -27 per cent in September.

Surveyors, however, were optimistic that the market would show signs of improvement in the next three months, and return to better health over the next 12 months. This optimism was at its highest level since February 2017.

Price declines

House price declines were reported by surveyors across the regions.

Taking into account surveyors’ responses from just England and Wales the overall house price net balance fell to -12 per cent following three months of flat readings.

The worst affected regions continue to be London, South East and East Anglia. Solid gains were reported in Northern Ireland and Wales.

House prices are not expected to pick up in any region within the next three months but 33 per cent more surveyors expected to see house prices rise over the next 12 months in all areas of the UK.

Surveyors are given the chance to send in a comment about buyer and seller activity in their own regions.

The majority report a similar scene where a combination of Brexit, the General Election and Christmas have resulted in an “extremely slow market”.

National views

Savills surveyor Simon Bainbridge said of Darlington: “Brexit, general election, Christmas, rain. Need one say more?”

While Ed Alder of Gleeson Developments working in Tyne and Wear said: “Sales enquires have slowed in last quarter, which we believe is due to uncertainty around Brexit and [its] impact on [the] economy.”

However two surveyors based in Newcastle and Northumberland reported a busy month.

All four surveyors commenting from the North West reported a slow housing market but there was mixed opinion from those based in East Midlands.

The lower priced end of the market in the East Midlands was reported to be moving while homeowners living in more expensive properties were less willing to adjust their prices.

In Nottingham, one surveyor reported good levels of new instructions, while a valuer in Leicester said he had seen a better than expected month for sales. However, overall – Brexit still loomed large.

Surveyor Paul Perriam of William H Brown and Bagshaws Residential in Nottingham, said: “Pre-election, pre-Brexit, pre-Christmas distractions for buyers and sellers but lots of pent up demand for the New Year.”

In the South East, surveyors also reported pent up demand, a market where “buyers have the upper hand”, a strong month for exchanges but slow for new valuation instructions and agreed sales.

Portsmouth-based David Nesbit, of D.M.Nesbit & Company, said: “A quiet month with bursts of activity.

Everyone awaiting the election result and holding back.”