Britain’s impending departure from the European Union continues to impact the property market, which has seen a further fall in sales, longer than usual completion times, and weakened demand from new buyers.
As well as economic instability, the September 2018 RICS UK Residential Market Survey also shows that the slow down can be attributed to a lack of stock and interest rate rises which are holding back activity.
New buyer demand fell during September to -11 per cent (-9 per cent in August), with new sales instructions also deteriorating. This has left stock levels at a record low, with the limited choice hampering demand.
As a further indicator of a struggling housing market, the time taken to complete a sale has increased to approximately 19 weeks, the longest since recordings began in February 2018.
Across the UK, house prices remained more or less unchanged, with the headline price net balance dropping down to -2 per cent, compared with a reading of +1 per cent in August.
RICS Chief Economist, Simon Rubinsohn, says: “There are a number of themes running through the comments of respondents this month but uncertainty relating to Brexit negotiations is at the very top of the list followed by references to the confidential remarks made by the Bank of England Governor to the cabinet. All of this is not surprisingly taking its toll on the sales market with the key activity indicator in the survey flat or slightly negative in all parts of the country apart from Northern Ireland and Wales.”
Former RICS Residential Chairman and North London estate agent, Jeremy Leaf, adds: “We have not seen the ‘autumn bounce-back’ in the market that we were expecting, especially after such a quiet summer. It is interesting that activity remains fairly flat nationally, which means London is still in negative territory, turning the old north/south property divide on its head.
“It is particularly disappointing that sellers seem reluctant to make their properties available in sufficient numbers, which would have improved choice and get the market moving in the period running up to Christmas. Our customers are still telling us that Brexit uncertainty is a factor in what has become a needs-driven market.”
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