The pick-up seen after the General Election continued into January.

Confidence in the housing market continued to build in January with activity increasing for the second month in a row.

Estate agents recorded a rise in enquiries from potential buyers and new sellers listing their homes, while there was also an increase in the number of sales agreed. More estate agents are reporting an increase in property values for the first time since July 2018.

The rebound is expected to continue, with estate agents predicting an increase in sales in all areas of the country in both the near term and a year from now, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said: "The latest survey results point to a continued improvement in market sentiment over the month, building on a noticeable pick-up in the immediate aftermath of the General Election."

Why is this happening?

The housing market has lacked direction for the past three and a half years, following the vote to leave the EU.

The political and economic uncertainty the referendum result created led potential buyers and sellers to adopt a ‘wait and see’ approach.

But December’s General Election, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s hard line on leaving the EU, backed by a significant majority in the House of Commons, brought some certainty to the market.

As a result, people who had previously sat on their hands for months are beginning to return to the market.

Man painting new house

Who does it affect?

The increase in homes being put up for sale is good news for potential buyers, as the market has been dogged by a lack of stock, and therefore limited buyer choice, for the past few years.

But RICS cautioned that, despite the improvement, the average number of properties estate agents had on their books still remained very low at just 43 per branch.

This shortage of homes for sale is expected to put rising pressure on prices, with estate agents expecting property values to increase over both the coming three months and the next year; bad news for first-time buyers and those looking to trade up the property ladder. 

What’s the background?

While the latest RICS survey offers good news for the housing market, it is less upbeat about the rental one.

Letting agents reported a fall in the number of new homes available to let for the 15th consecutive quarter. 

At the same time, demand from potential tenants continued to increase.

The ongoing mismatch between supply and demand is expected to push rents higher, with letting agents predicting they will rise by just over 2% in the year ahead.

Top 3 takeaways 

  • Confidence in the housing market continued to build in January with activity increasing for the second month in a row

  • Estate agents recorded a rise in inquiries from potential buyers and new sellers listing their homes, while there was also an increase in the number of sales agreed

  • Estate agents predict an increase in sales in all areas of the country in both the next three months and a year from now

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