UK housing sales “stagnant”

by Gary Whittaker

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has found that the UK housing market has hit a period of stagnation, with data from March showing that the number of properties available for sale are falling. However, it seems this might be good news for letting agents, as tenant demand appears to be rising.

RICS' findings suggest that fewer people across the UK are interested in buying houses, with new buyer inquiries remaining flat overall for the last three months. While some areas - such as Northern Ireland, and to a lesser extent London - saw an increase in inquiries, this was balanced out by a fall across much of the UK.

This stagnation of demand has been matched by a drop in supply. The number of unsold properties available in each estate agent has reached an average of 43, which is the lowest figure on record. Furthermore, 13 per cent more of the surveyors polled by RICS reported a drop in the number of new listings on the market.

As might be expected, all this is backed up by a drop in property sales. Over the last four months, RICS has seen no overall rise in the number of transaction volumes. In March, around three per cent more respondents saw a fall in sales than those who saw any kind of increase.

However, the upside to all this comes for letting agents, as demand for rental properties is rising. Around 11 per cent more of those RICS surveyed said they'd seen an increase in tenant demand, compared to those who'd seen it fall. Meanwhile, rents across the UK increased and are expected to do so for the near year, with the exception of London where they are predicted to decline slightly.

"The key theme that really runs through the whole of this survey is the lack of supply on the market," said Simon Rubinsohn, RICS' chief economist. "The wider residential market continues to be underpinned by a lack of stock. This includes rents, which away from the capital are generally moving higher as demand outstrips supply."

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13-April-17General Lettings News