RICS UK Residential Market Survey reveals falling demand in housing market

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The momentum in the UK housing market continues to slow, as buyer demand falls for the twelfth consecutive month, according to the figures from the March 2018 RICS UK Residential Market Survey

One year on and buyer demand continues to slip

Continuing the prevalent trend seen for one year now, interest from would-be buyers continued to decline with 17% more respondents seeing a fall rather than rise over the month in a trend dating back to March 2017. This subdued trend is also seen in other key indicators as both new instructions and newly agreed sales remain in negative territory.

One of the main factors impeding demand alongside the ongoing concerns over affordability, is the lack of fresh stock coming onto the market. In March, the flow of properties slowed once again, marking the seventh consecutive month respondents reported a fall in the number of houses being put up for sale. As such, average stock levels on estate agents’ books remains near an all-time low.

The impact on sales now and the year ahead

Sales also continued to fall in March, with 20% more respondents reporting a drop rather than rise, extending the run of negative readings stretching back to February 2017. Looking at the regional picture, respondents in almost all parts of the UK noted either a flat or downward sales trend this month. However, the year ahead does look more positive, with 17% of contributors anticipating an increase in sales over the next year at the national level.

House price trends

Moving to prices, at the national level the price balance remained unchanged coming in at zero, representing the joint lowest reading since February 2013. Regionally, there continues to be significant variation in the house price indicator.

Looking ahead, the three-month outlook for prices remains flat, and continues a trend which was first seen in November last year. The expectation is that prices will resume an upward trend at a headline level with a net balance of +47% anticipating prices to be higher in the coming twelve months.

People are still moving

In an additional question this month, respondents were asked whether they had seen an increase in the number of sellers withdrawing their property for sale from the market compared with a year earlier. Nationally, respondents saw no change. However, in London, 55% of respondents reported a rise in the number of properties being withdrawn from the market, (compared with this time last year) with anecdotal evidence suggesting this reflects the differing expectations of buyers and sellers.

To download the full March 2018 RICS UK Residential Market Survey click here.

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