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Housing market spring season off to subdued start amid Brexit uncertainty

The usual spring bounce in the housing market is being delayed by Brexit uncertainty, reports show.

The average house price is 0.8% lower than it was a year ago, with Rightmove saying the average asking price in March stands at £302,002.

Despite this, prices have edged up by 0.4% – or £1,287 – month on month.

Rightmove said this was the lowest month-on-month increase seen at this time of year since 2011 and “considerably lower” than the 0.9% average increase seen over the past seven years.

It said the usual spring bounce in the housing market is, at best, being delayed by Brexit uncertainty.

Rightmove director Miles Shipside said: “While March marks the start of spring, temperatures have yet to rise in the housing market.

“Buying activity remains cooler than usual, with hesitation as some buyers await a more settled political climate.

“There’s greater resilience the further away you get from the London market, and there’s a sound bedrock of demand for the right property at the right price, reinforced by ongoing housing needs combined with cheap mortgage borrowing.”

In Scotland, asking prices have jumped by 3.1% month on month – the biggest increase in March of all Britain’s nations and regions, followed by the North West of England with a 2.2% increase.

In Wales, asking prices are up by 1.4% month on month.

Asking prices in London are down by 1.1% on the previous month, while the only other English region to record a monthly fall is the North East of England, down by 1.3%, with elsewhere in Britain seeing an increase.

London asking prices are 68% higher than they were 10 years ago, while those in the North East of England have increased by 8% over the past decade.

Mr Shipside said: “London and some of its commuter belt are suffering from a post-boom hangover, with prices now having to be far more sober to attract buyer interest.”

Rightmove said the number of sales agreed by estate agents in February was 7% below the same period in 2018, compared with a year-on-year fall of 4% recorded in January.

But search activity on Rightmove remains steady, with the number of visits to the website staying level in the year to date.

It said this indicates that home movers are “keeping a watching brief” which could lead to an eventual bounce if and when the uncertainty subsides.

Mr Shipside said: “The closer you get to the wire without the clarity of an agreed way forward, the greater the propensity for buyers to wait and see rather than acting now.

“This could be a temporary pause, and indeed market slowdowns at election time and around the original referendum result bounced back pretty quickly.

“Markets and people do not like uncertainty, though, while sales agreed numbers are down by 7%, that means they are still running at 93% of last year’s levels.

“Most potential buyers are getting on with their lives or seeing a price lull as an opportunity to get on to the housing ladder or move to the next rung, with average national asking prices being 0.8% cheaper than a year ago.”

By Kirsty Bosley

Source: Kent Live

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UK house prices: Ongoing Brexit uncertainty will hurt housing market, says RICS

UK house prices will continue to plunge this year as prolonged Brexit uncertainty weighs on the market, according to the latest forecasts.

Buyer enquiries, agreed sales and instructions to sell have fallen for the sixth month running, according to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors’ (RICS) latest housing market survey.

Buyers and sellers are both waiting for a resolution to Brexit before committing to a sale, according to the survey conducted in February and released today, with 77 per cent of respondents blaming the political uncertainty.

Buyer demand fell for the seventh month in a row in February as 41 per cent of respondents said buyer enquiries are falling, while agreed sales have been flat or negative since March 2016.

Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said: “The latest RICS survey makes it pretty clear that the ongoing uncertainty around how Brexit will play out is the critical factor influencing both buyers and sellers.

“And with little sign that the issue will be resolved anytime soon, it could prove to be a challenging spring for the housing market and the wider economy.”

He added that while it is a buyers’ market now, sellers reluctant to give up higher prices must face reality if they want to agree a sale.

“This environment requires a greater degree of realism from those looking to move,” Rubinsohn said. “A reluctance from some vendors to acknowledge the shift in the balance of power in the market will compound the difficulty in executing transactions.”

Meanwhile the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) curt its five-year house price forecast from 20 per cent to 17 per cent yesterday, saying prices will fall in 2019.

By Joe Curtis

Source: City AM

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Prolonged Brexit uncertainty will damage UK housing market

Prolonged Brexit uncertainty will likely further damage the UK housing market, according to the latest research by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

The most recent results from RICS’ UK Residential Market Survey show a continued decline in activity across the UK housing market in February, with new buyer enquiries, agreed sales and instructions all falling.

This is the sixth consecutive month all have fallen together, and the headline price balance also slipped to its lowest reading since 2011.

According to the body, continued lack of political resolution on Brexit after Theresa May’s latest deal was thrown out of Parliament on Tuesday could mean the housing market will continue to take a hit, with sales activity dropping off further.

In an additional question in the survey this month, over three quarters (77%) of respondents said Brexit uncertainty was holding back activity in the market, as buyers and sellers sit tight, resulting in near-term activity indicators pointing to further declines.

The RICS survey has long highlighted the impact Brexit uncertainty has had on the housing market, as stock levels hit all-time lows, activity stalled and sales took longer to complete.

But in recent reports the twelve-month outlook has remained broadly positive, reflecting the hope that greater clarity will emerge after 29 March.

Looking at the key activity measures in detail, buyer demand fell for the seventh consecutive month in February as 41% more respondents reported a fall in the number of new buyer enquiries, and the volume of agreed sales also slipped, with the indicator now having displayed a flat or negative trend since March 2016.

According to the report, this near-term uncertainty is set to linger for the coming three months, with sentiment for sales remaining subdued. Looking further ahead, however, its twelve-month sales expectations suggest a slightly more positive outlook.

As the lack of stock, in addition to Brexit, appears to be holding back buyer demand, 29% of contributors reported a decline in new instructions being listed over the month.

This is the eighth consecutive month where respondents have reported a fall in the number of new properties being listed for sale. Average stock levels are now back to record lows, and respondents cited this as the next biggest challenge after Brexit.

Following Theresa May’s latest Brexit deal defeat, regardless of whether the UK now leaves the EU with or without a deal, the impact of further uncertainty is expected to be felt across all tenures of the housing market, RICS said.

Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said: “Although activity in the housing market continues to be weighted down by the lack of available stock, changes in the tax regime affecting property, and affordability; feedback to the latest RICS survey makes it pretty clear that the ongoing uncertainty around how Brexit will play out is the critical factor influencing both buyers and sellers.

“And with little sign that the issue will be resolved anytime soon, it could prove to be a challenging spring for the housing market and the wider economy.

“It is clear from professionals working in the market that this environment requires a greater degree of realism from those looking to move. A reluctance from some vendors to acknowledge the shift in the balance of power in the market will compound the difficulty in executing transactions,” he added.

By Abigail Fenton

Source: Yahoo Finance UK