Property market stuck in the doldrums as number of homes on Britain’s estate agents’ books falls to lowest since 1978
A scarcity of properties coming up for sale means that estate agents are being left with an average of just 43 unsold homes on their books.
This is the lowest ever recorded number since records began at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in 1978. While the supply of homes for sale hits record lows, demand from buyers was equally ‘subdued’ last month, RICS said.
The shortage of homes available has also had a knock-on effect on sales, with an increasing number of experts in the industry reporting a decline in completed transactions.
Dwindling supplies: Scarce supplies of properties coming up for sale mean estate agents are being left with an average of just 43 unsold homes on their books
The lack of supply in the market is continuing to drive house prices up, with 22 per cent more surveyors questioned by RICS reporting price hikes in the last month.
With sales and demand stagnating in many parts of the country, industry insiders have trimmed back their sales growth predictions for the year ahead.
‘The areas with declining buyer interest outweigh those with increasing demand’, RICS added in its latest report.
While interest from buyers dropped off in many parts of the country last month, it grew in Northern Ireland and the South West of England.
In the central London market, house price growth has dwindled to its weakest since 2009. But, taking London as a whole, there has been a slight upturn in interest form buyers over the last four months, RICS said.
Simon Rubinsohn, chief economist at Rics, said: ‘The latest results for the Rics survey show little change in the underlying picture surrounding both sales and markets.
‘High end sale properties in central London remain under pressure, while the wider residential market continues to be underpinned by a lack of stock.
‘This includes rents, with rents away from the capital generally moving higher as demand outstrips supply.
‘For the time being it is hard to see any major impetus for change in the market, something also being reflected in the flat trend in transaction levels.’
Lower demand: With supplies of homes reaching estate agents’ books falling to record lows, demand from buyers was equally ‘subdued’ last month
Looking ahead, a balance of 24 per cent of industry insiders surveyed said they expect house sales numbers to rise rather than fall over the next 12 months.
In the lettings market, Rics said tenant demand continues to grow, with 11 per cent more surveyors noting an increase rather than a fall in demand.
On Tuesday, data from the Office for National Statistics revealed that the average cost o a home in the UK rose 5.8 per cent in the year to February, bringing the cost of a home up to £218,000.
This is £12,000 higher than in February 2016 and £2,000 higher than last month.
The main contribution to the increase in house prices came from England, where house prices increased by 6.3 per cent in the year to February, with the average cost of a home at £234,000.
Cut back predictions: Industry insiders have trimmed back their sales growth predictions for the year ahead