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House price growth at flattest level in four years

Written by: John Fitzsimons
House price growth is now broadly flat according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), which recorded the “softest reading” since early 2013.

The balance of surveyors reporting price rises fell from +7% to just +1%. While 28% more surveyors expect prices to rise than fall over the next 12 months, this still represents the least positive reading since last July, a time of great upheaval following the Brexit vote.

RICS said the main element holding back the market is the “sustained deterioration” in fresh listings, with new instructions falling for the seventeenth straight month.

Simon Rubinsohn, chief economist at RICS, said: “Sales activity in the housing market has been slipping in recent months and the most worrying aspect of the latest survey is the suggestion that this could continue for some time to come.

“One reason for this is the recent series of tax changes, but this is only part of the story. Lack of new build in the wake of the financial crisis is a more fundamental factor weighing on the market. And there are some very real consequences for the economy from all of this including the impact on the ability of people to be mobile when looking for work.”

Richard Sexton, director at e.surv, said that buyers and sellers are clearly adopting a “cautious approach” at the moment.

He said: “Despite this, today’s results should not be viewed as a sign of troubled waters. The whole market has been steadily growing and we have seen increases in mortgage approvals year-on-year, driven by remortgage activity, particularly in the north.”

Jeremy Duncombe, director of Legal & General Mortgage Club, said that despite the more discouraging views on the housing market, the mortgage industry has remained resilient in recent times.

He continued: “However, the long-running issue of housing supply remains, and it’s vital the government continues to find and act on ways to address our limited housing stock to boost housing supply and give more younger buyers a better chance at home ownership.”

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