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Subdued housing market set to persist, say surveyors

By Vicky Shaw, Press Association Personal Finance Correspondent
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Subdued housing market set to persist, say surveyors

Some 7% of surveyors reported seeing newly-agreed house sales fall in June.

The number of newly-agreed house sales has been shrinking for 16 months in a row, surveyors have reported.

A net balance of 7% of surveyors reported seeing a fall in sales in June rather than an increase, marking the 16th month in a row of negative readings, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) said.

Its June report said the continuing decline in sales suggests the “subdued picture” of the market will persist.

The typical time it takes for house sales to complete has also edged up, from around 16 weeks in spring 2017 to around 18 weeks now, Rics said.

Its report also said that demand from home buyers remained flat in June, a trend which goes back to late 2016.

Simon Rubinsohn, Rics chief economist, said: “It is hard to see what is going to provide much impetus for activity in the housing market in the near term.”

Buyers may find they have more choice, as for the second month in a row, the flow of new properties coming to market has increased, with a balance of 10% more surveyors seeing an upswing rather than a fall.

But Rics said with the average number of homes on agents’ books close to historic lows, at 43 per branch, it is too early to suggest the issue of stock levels is diminishing as an obstacle to home buyers.

Meanwhile, in the lettings market, the number of fresh properties has been declining for 21 months, the report said.

The lack of house sales activity continues to impact on house prices, which remained generally flat in June, with a net balance of 2% of surveyors reporting prices increasing rather than decreasing.

It marked the 13th successive month that surveyors have reported sluggish price growth.

At a regional house price level, Rics said that with the exception of London, the South East and East Anglia, where surveyors generally report prices are falling, all other parts of the country are recording results consistent with further, if in most cases modest, house price growth.