The current housing market outlook for the next three months
is the worst for 20 years, according to the latest study from the Royal
Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
A net balance of 28% of RICS members expect property sales
to fall in the next three months.
This is the most downbeat reading since the records began in
October 1998, with the pessimism blamed on the lack of clarity around Brexit.
A lack of housing supply and affordability also continued to
affect the market.
Sales expectations for the coming three months are now
either flat, with no change predicted, or negative, indicating a decline in
sales, across all parts of the UK, the report states.
Increasing numbers of surveyors reported seeing house prices
fall rather than rise in December, with a net balance of 19% witnessing
declines, rather than growth.
This is up from a balance of 11% in November, and marked the
fourth consecutive month of negative house price readings.
New buyer inquiries dropped for the fifth month in a row last
The drop-off in interest from buyers was matched by a
decline in fresh properties coming onto the market.
The supply of new properties has been dwindling for six
months, Simon Rubinsohn, the Chief Economist at the RICS, says.
“It is hardly a surprise, with ongoing uncertainty about
the path to Brexit dominating the news agenda, that, even allowing for the
normal patterns around the Christmas holidays, buyer interest in purchasing
property in December was subdued.
“This is also very clearly reflected in a worsening trend
in near-term sales expectations.”
The latest official Office for National Statistics (ONS) house
price data suggests that housing activity has been muted recently, due to
The average house price in November was £231,000,
following a monthly decline of 0.1%.
Looking further ahead, surveyors were a little more hopeful in
their sales expectations for 12 months’ time.
Rubinsohn says: “Looking a little further out, there is
some comfort provided by the suggestion that transactions nationally should
stabilise as some of the fog lifts, but that moment feels a way off for many
respondents to the survey.
“Meanwhile, it is hard to see
developers stepping up the supply pipeline in this environment.”
He added that getting close to Government
housebuilding targets would “require significantly greater input from
other delivery channels, including local authorities”.