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House buying enquiries at weakest since aftermath of Brexit vote, say surveyors

Ben Chu

Housing buyer enquiries and property sales both fell in September according to the latest survey of chartered surveyors, underlining the softness of the market in the wake of last year’s Brexit vote.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) reported a net balance of surveyors reporting more buyer enquiries in the month, of minus 20 per cent, the weakest reading since the aftermath of the EU referendum in June 2016.

The reported net balance for house sales fell to minus 15 per cent, also the lowest since July 2016.

The headline balance for property sale prices was unchanged on the previous month at plus 6 per cent, although for London it remained deep in negative territory.

This was offset by a positive price balance for Wales, the North West and Scotland, among other regions.

“The UK housing market continues to lack momentum in September, as demand from new buyers and sales fell again and the shift in interest rate expectations contributes to buyer caution in a slowing market,” said RICS.

Weakest since Brexit vote, in September

A surveyor in Liverpool said September had been a quiet month for the market, singling out Brexit, the uncertain political climate and the prospect of the first rate hike from the Bank of England in a decade in November.

The most recent Nationwide house price index reading pointed to an annual rise of just 2.1 per cent in August.

However, according to the latest Halifax house price index reading, average house prices rose at an annual pace of 4 per cent in the three months to September, strengthening from 2.6 per cent previously.

Before last year’s referendum the Treasury projected that house prices in 2018 could be 10 to 18 per cent lower than otherwise in the event of a Leave vote.