Low levels of activity in the sluggish housing market are set to continue, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
New buyer inquiries fell for the 10th consecutive month in January, and the number of newly agreed sales also slumped in its monthly residential market survey, which acts as a helpful guide to future trends.
There was also a continued fall in the number of properties on the market, which has been at a historic low level for more than a year. Those polled also said that the number of valuations undertaken in January was lower than the level last year.
Simon Rubinsohn, Rics' chief economist said: “Lack of inventory on agents’ books continues to provide a major challenge with the number of valuations being undertaken not suggestive of a pick-up in new supply anytime soon."
The only bright spot was in the long-term optimism around sales, which most surveyors polled said would pick up in the next 12 months.
Lack of inventory on agents’ books continues to provide a major challenge with the number of valuations being undertaken not suggestive of a pick-up in new supply anytime soon
Simon Rubinsohn, Rics
House price growth varied across the country, but has risen on average. However, those polled reported prices were dropping in the south east, East Anglia, and the north east, with London having the most extreme falls.
Mr Rubinsohn added: “Divergent regional trends remain very much to the fore with the market in many parts of the country still actually behaving in a solid, if unspectacular, way despite the downbeat headlines. Affordability issues continue to play a key role in explaining this pattern with those areas where house price earnings are most stretched seeing the softest markets.”
In the next 12 months the outlook for price rises was positive for every region except for London. It also found that property with higher prices continued to be the worst hit: 67pc of respondents said that property with an asking price over £1m had lower sales prices, mostly between 5pc and 10pc below.
It came as Standard and Poor's estimated house prices would rise by 0.5pc this year, a lower rate than many other forecasts.
It said: "Should it emerge during 2018 that key service sectors' access to the EU market will be more restricted post-Brexit than we assume in our forecast, this would likely affect house prices more negatively than we currently expect, especially in London where exposure is greatest."