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Housing market off to ‘subdued’ start in 2019

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14/02/2019
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has described the housing market as ‘subdued’, noting that new buyer enquiries fell in January for the sixth successive month.

In its latest residential market survey, the trade body confirmed that demand declined to some degree across almost every region in the UK, with Scotland the only exception. Even north of the border however the trend was flat.

A drop in demand has been accompanied by a fall in new listings also, to the weakest level seen since July 2016, while agreed sales fell further as well.

What’s ahead?

The RICS survey found that sales expectations are negative for the next three months both nationally and across most parts of the UK, though surveyors are positive in expecting sales to rise over the next year.

Prices are expected to continue to slip, with London and the south east subject to the most negativity from surveyors. RICS noted that these regions have seen strong house price growth in recent years, making them less affordable.

A mixed picture for landlords

The survey revealed a mixed picture for the lettings market. While demand picked up modestly, for the third straight quarter, new landlord instructions fell for the eleventh successive quarter.

Surveyors expect rents to increase by around 2% over the next year.

Simon Rubinsohn, chief economist at RICS, noted that while some respondents had enjoyed a stronger start to the year than anticipated, the majority were continuing to find the market a tough one in which to do business.

“Resolution of the Brexit negotiations is widely seen as critical to encouraging potential buyers back into the market, although whether that will be sufficient in London and parts of the south east where affordability remains stretched and the tax changes are most penal remains to be seen,” he added.

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