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‘Brexit saga’ casts shadow over housing market as buyers and sellers hesitate

By Vicky Shaw, PA Personal Finance Correspondent

The “seemingly never-ending Brexit saga” continues to cast a shadow over the housing market, with flat demand from buyers and sales expectations weakening, according to surveyors.

Brexit uncertainty is a significant factor causing hesitation for buyers and sellers, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) said.

Rics said expectations for house sales deteriorated in August, with a net balance of 23% expecting sales to dip rather than increase in the next three months.

It said August also saw flat demand from new buyers, after a couple of months where inquiries from potential purchasers had increased.

Simon Rubinsohn, Rics chief economist, said: “It is hard to get away from the shadow being cast over the housing market by the seemingly never-ending Brexit saga.”

The findings were released after a separate report from the Building Societies Association (BSA) on Tuesday suggested political wrangling has knocked confidence further in the housing market.

The BSA found a third (33%) of people expect house prices will fall over the coming year, up from 24% in June.

Its latest Property Tracker Survey suggested discretionary home purchases at least may be on hold for now.

In the BSA’s survey, 33% disagreed with the statement that it is a good time to buy a property, while only 22% agreed.

Rics also said the number of new properties coming on the market in August was “more or less flat once again in August” – and with fresh buyer inquiries also levelling out house prices were largely unchanged.

A net balance of 12% of surveyors expect prices to increase rather than decrease in the next 12 months, Rics said.