THE UK housing market continues to lack impetus, with new buyer enquiries and agreed sales stagnant in March, the latest housing market report shows.
The number of properties coming on to the market also dropped further and predictions for sales growth in the year ahead have now fallen, according to the report from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
As well as new buyer enquiries and sales remaining flat in March, stock levels hit new record low as the number of properties coming to market continued to decline and overall while house price rises are strong in the North West, they continue to slip in central London.
It means that new buyer enquiries have now been flat for a third successive month and although the picture remains mixed across the UK, the areas with declining buyer interest outweigh those with increasing demand.
The strongest growth in new buyer enquiries was seen in Northern Ireland and the South West, plus 34 and 22 net balances respectively and in London buyer interest has been increasing modestly over the last four months to a plus nine net balance in March. New instructions to sell fell noticeably with 13% more respondents seeing a fall in fresh listing rather than a rise over the month. Stock on estate agents books has consequently dipped to a new record low with branches, on average, now holding only 43 unsold properties.
RICS says that consequently there has been an impact on sales activity with transaction volumes failing to rise across the UK in each of the last four surveys. In March, 3% more respondents saw a fall in agreed sales rather than a rise. However, sales did rise relatively firmly in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
The lack of supply in the market continues to underpin prices, with 22% more respondents seeing a rise over the last month across the UK, however, the difference between central London and the rest of the UK continues to widen. If figures from the capital are excluded from the headline figure, price growth in the UK has accelerated since December and price rises in the North West are particularly strong.
Prices in central London have progressively deteriorated and at -49%, the net balance was the weakest since 2009. Nevertheless, 14% more respondents from London anticipate prices will be higher in 12 months’ time.