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The number of homes being put up for sale fell to a three-year low in September as Brexit uncertainty continued to hit consumer confidence.

Inquiries from potential buyers also dropped during the month, while agreed sales fell too, with activity slipping in nearly all parts of the UK, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

The subdued market left the level of properties estate agents had on their books close to record lows, while they also reported that appraisals were lower than a year earlier, suggesting little prospect of a pick-up in the immediate future.

Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said: “There are good reasons for thinking the latest dip in both buyer enquiries and vendor instructions is a response to the endless wrangling about Brexit, as the October 31 deadline approaches.

“Unless there is a speedy resolution to the ongoing impasse it does seem inevitable that the standoff between purchasers and sellers will deepen making it harder to complete transactions.”

Why is this happening?

RICS blamed the situation on the heighted political and economic uncertainty surrounding the UK’s exit from the EU.

While potential buyers have adopted a cautious approach for some time, estate agents said the Brexit impasse was now putting off sellers too, with numbers declining steeply in September following three months during which they had stabilised.

On a more positive note, the fact that fewer homes are coming on to the market is helping to support prices, with property values remaining flat in September.

Who does it affect?

While the headline figures pointed to a subdued property market, there continued to be significant regional variations.

Estate agents in London and the south east reported further house price falls, while those in Northern Ireland, Scotland and the north west said they had seen solid gains.

Meanwhile, in the letting market demand for rental properties increased for the eighth month in a row, while supply continued to fall.

As a result, letting agents expect further increases in rents in the coming three months.

What’s the background?

Going forward, the market is not expected to regain much momentum in the short term, with sales levels expected to remain subdued, while house prices are likely to show modest declines in coming three months.

But estate agents are more optimistic about the market’s prospects a year from now, with house prices expected to increase during the coming 12 months.

Top 3 takeaways

  • The number of homes being put up for sale fell to a three-year low in September as Brexit uncertainty continued to hit confidence
  • Inquiries from potential buyers also dropped during the month, while agreed sales fell too, with activity slipping in nearly all parts of the UK
  • The lack of activity left the level of properties estate agents had on their books close to record lows with little prospect of a pick-up in the immediate future

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