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Housing market stifled by lack of demand

According to the latest RICS UK Housing Market survey lack of demand from buyers continues to stifle the market, and new buyer enquiries fell for the sixth consecutive month. First-time buyers are in particularly short supply, as large deposits required by lenders and availability of mortgage finance keep many from getting a foot on the property ladder.

The sharp rise in stock coming to the market since the spring appears to be fading; new instructions have now dipped for two months in succession. Surveyors report many would-be sellers have decided to wait until the new year to put their property on the market.

Unsold properties remained on surveyors books for longer in November, as the average number of stocks rose to 69.5 (from 67.2). Meanwhile, the average number of sales per surveyor decreased, with just 14.8 sales on average taking place over the last three months. As a result, the sales to stock ratio fell to its lowest level since May 2009.

Regionally, the West Midlands and Northern Ireland registered the most negative readings for house prices, with 67 per cent more surveyors reporting falls than rises in both areas. Meanwhile, the South West continues to buck the national trend as the only region to report a positive net balance for newly agreed sales.

Looking ahead, surveyors’ expectations for house prices over the next three months remain negative, with a net balance of -41 per cent expecting prices to fall. However, sales expectations are more upbeat, with six per cent more predicting sales to increase rather than decrease over the next three months.

RICS spokesperson, Ian Perry said:

"There was little change in the housing market in November; prices continued to edge lower and sales levels generally remained subdued.

"Despite some better economic data, fears over how future spending cuts will impact on the jobs market are clearly still weighing heavily on potential purchasers’ minds, with many deciding to ‘wait and see’ until the new year. Meanwhile, the lack of mortgage finance continues to deter first time buyers."

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