House sales fall to low­est level for 15 months

Only Wales and the South West recorded an in­crease in Septem­ber, as like­li­hood of in­ter­est rate rise grows

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - By

Is­abelle Fraser HOUS­ING mar­ket ac­tiv­ity and con­fi­dence are now lower than at any point since the ref­er­en­dum to leave the Euro­pean Union, ac­cord­ing to the Royal In­sti­tu­tion of Char­tered Sur­vey­ors. Its monthly res­i­den­tial mar­ket sur­vey found that de­mand from new buy­ers and agreed sales have fallen again, partly due to a new cau­tion over a po­ten­tial in­ter­est rate rise and a slow­ing mar­ket.

It found that 20pc more re­spon­dents noted a fall rather than rise in buyer de­mand, mak­ing it the sixth con­sec­u­tive neg­a­tive read­ing. The amount of stock per es­tate agent has hov­ered around a record low level since March.

The de­cline in sales was wide­spread across the coun­try, but Lon­don and the South East led the way. The sur­vey found that 15pc more re­spon­dents re­ported a fall in sales rather than a rise, the low­est level recorded since July 2016. Only Wales and the South West had an in­crease in prop­erty sales, and across the coun­try the level is likely to re­main flat in the next 12 months.

As mar­ket ac­tiv­ity con­tin­ues to slow, prices are ris­ing marginally across most of the coun­try, as de­mand con­tin­ues to out­strip sup­ply. In East Anglia and the North East prices fell in Septem­ber, as well as in Lon­don and the South East. Here, more of those polled said that prop­erty was over­priced than any­where else in the coun­try. Rics’ sur­vey, while volatile, is a use­ful mea­sure of the di­rec­tion of the hous­ing mar­ket. It found that in the next three months, house prices are ex­pected to fall slightly across the coun­try, ex­cept for in Scot­land and North­ern Ire­land; in 12 months’ time, they are ex­pected to climb, with the ex­cep­tion of Lon­don.

Those polled were more neg­a­tive about ex­pec­ta­tions for the cap­i­tal’s long-term price growth than at any time since 2010.

Si­mon Ru­bin­sohn, Rics’ chief econ­o­mist, said: “We are con­tin­u­ing to see ev­i­dence of short­age of stock both in the new-build and se­cond-hand mar­ket. And de­spite the an­nounce­ments at the re­cent Con­ser­va­tive Party con­fer­ence, it is hard to en­vis­age this chang­ing any time soon.

“Against such a back­drop, prices in gen­eral are likely to re­main el­e­vated and in­deed, as the sur­vey in­di­cates, con­tinue to rise over the medium term in most parts of the coun­try.”

The sur­vey also noted that the squeeze on buy-to-let was con­tin­u­ing, with the num­ber of land­lords look­ing to buy de­clin­ing, with no growth in de­mand for the last 14 months.

‘Prices in gen­eral are likely to re­main el­e­vated and will con­tinue to rise … in most parts of the coun­try’

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