Subdued activity on housing market in June

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The Independent Online

Britain's housing market saw subdued activity in June as fewer vendors put properties on to the market while buyers again sat on their hands, according to new research.

RICS, the surveyors' trade body, said new instructions fell sharply from May as sellers adopt a "wait and see" approach, adding that transactions generally are becoming more difficult to complete because of the uncertain economic backdrop.

Part of the problem is unrealistic price expectations by vendors, said the agents, alongside a lack of mortgage availability, with only buyers who have already sold their property or have a mortgage agreement in place considered serious.

More estate agents reported price falls than rises in June, though the vast majority of these saw prices dip by up to 2%. A similar number also expected prices to fall rather than rise over the next three months.

RICS housing spokesman Alan Collett said: "The housing market was pretty flat during June.

"With continued uncertainty over the jobs market and the economy, this subdued picture is set to continue.

"London, however, remains a market apart, with both sales and prices showing a greater degree of resilience."

The average number of houses on estate agents' books fell slightly over the month to 69.5, from 71.7, but this reflected the slowdown in the amount of new properties coming onto the market.

The levels of housing stock mirrored the regional performance, with the lowest totals in London and the highest in Wales and East Midlands.

RICS says the market currently is in "stalemate", a view echoed by many of the individual agent comments.

The north is seeing "lots of viewings and few sales", according to one agent, while another in the Newcastle area suggested there is a "frightening bubble" of property being held back by reluctant vendors.

Even in London, agents say vendors have unrealistic expectations, which is giving rise to a "distinct lack of sellable instructions" and prompting more private, off-market deals.

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