Housing market is perking up at last, say RICS estate agents

The housing market has perked up since the election, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors is reporting this morning.

The RICS shook off its usual gloom to say that sales expectations among its estate agent members has improved noticeably.

Both enquiries and instructions have increased, as have agreed sales.

Almost one third (31%) of agents believe that transactions will rise over the next three months.

Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said: “The signals provide further evidence that the housing market is seeing some benefit from the greater clarity provided by the decisive election outcome.

“Whether the improvement in sentiment can be sustained remains to be seen, given that there is so much work to be done over the course of this year in determining the nature of the eventual Brexit deal.

“However, the sales expectations indicators clearly point to the prospect of a more upbeat trend in transactions emerging, with potential purchasers being more comfortable in following through on initial enquiries.

“The on-going lack of stock on the market remains a potential drag on a meaningful uplift in activity, although the very modest increase in new instructions in December is an early hopeful sign.”

The RICS monthly surveys contain no figures or hard facts, but are seen as a measure of sentiment among estate agents. There were 442 responses to the latest RICS survey, covering 700 branches.

Separately, the website Home has reported that last month the number of new instructions fell to a five-year low. The property drought was worst in London, with new listings down 23% annually.

Home said that total sales stock across England and Wales was down 9.7% year on year.

Rental stock has 15% fewer new listings, with new rental supply in London down 21%.

Meanwhile the latest Office for National Statistics/Land Registry figures show that the average house price last November was £235,298 – up 2.2% on the previous November.

The latest month for sales volumes to be reported is September, when sales in England have so far been reported at 61,633 transactions. While this is down from 68,839 the September before, the figure is likely to be revised upwards as the data so far covers only 85% of the market.

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