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RICS and NFB call for stamp duty holiday

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the National Federation of Builders (NFB) have called for a stamp duty holiday once the lockdown ends.

RICS members are expecting house prices to fall over the next 12 months – but the organisation said temporarily removing stamp duty would help quickly get the market running again.

Hew Edgar, RICS head of government relations, said: “RICS is not an organisation that would call for a stamp duty holiday on a whim.

“As we start to emerge from this crisis, however, it is likely that the finances of potential homebuyers will be under strain, and the burden of stamp duty could put buyers off.

“For those who can afford to move they may lack confidence in the market, adding to the slow down.

“A stamp duty holiday could be one of the ways to reactivate the housing market quickly as a short term measure.”

Afterwards the NFB backed the call.

Richard Beresford, chief executive of the NFB, said: “A temporary stamp duty holiday would encourage new build sales and release some much needed cashflow back to our struggling housebuilders.

“It would also ensure vital businesses, such as surveyors and conveyancers, are able to continue operating in these difficult times. We support it.”

The National Federation of Builders also backed are campaigns to defer planning contributions and council tax on vacant new builds, as well as extend planning permissions by 12 months.

Rico Wojtulewicz, head of housing and planning policy at the House Builders Association (HBA), the housebuilding division of the NFB, said: “Housebuilders, many of whom are struggling to get lending from the government CBILS scheme, are still expected to pay bills, their staff and the supply chain but with reduced or no revenues.

“A temporary stamp duty holiday is another immediately deliverable solution that the government should pursue.

“Any delay in increasing support to our industry will see businesses go to the wall and once one goes, the domino effect will be striking.”

BY RYAN BEMBRIDGE

Source: Property Wire

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Sales pick up as confidence in housing market translates into activity

Increased optimism from buyers has led to a pick-up in sales activity in the Scottish housing market, according to the January 2020 UK Residential Market Survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Whilst the picture regarding the number of homes being listed for sales was flat during January, the number of people looking to buy rose, according to a net balance of +22% of Scottish respondents.

This resulted in the number of newly agreed sales increasing over the month, with a net balance of +11% of surveyors saying that there were more newly agreed sales in January compared to December.

Prices also continue to rise last month, according to the survey. A net balance of 32% of Scottish respondents said that prices increased, the highest since July 2019, and higher than all UK regions other than Northern Ireland.

Looking ahead, respondents to the survey in Scotland remain confident about the outlook, with sales anticipated to rise both in the near term and for the year to come. A net balance of +70% of Scottish respondents expects prices to be higher in a year’s time. A net balance of 54% expects sales activity to increase over the next 12 months.

Despite the improvement in buyer demand though, instructions to sell have not picked up, with the balance for instructions to sell flat.

This follows a sustained period of falling supply, meaning that stock levels are low. Indeed, anecdotally, a number of respondents in Scotland say that there is an under-supply of good properties available to meet the demand, and that this is the main risk to the market at present.

Grant Robertson, MRICS of Allied Surveyors in Glasgow, said: “Sales remain strong when there is something to sell. The modest post-election surge bodes well for 2020 but stock needs to start releasing or values will surge and kill the market.”

Graeme Lusk MRICS of Walker Fraser Steele based in Glasgow and Renfrewshire, added: “The market is beginning to come out of its winter slumber. But there is still an under-supply of quality properties on the market and buyers waiting. A good time to put your property on the market.”

In the lettings market, demand for rental properties in Scotland rose in the three months to January (seasonally adjusted quarterly series), with a net balance of +29% of respondents citing an increase.

At the same time, the balance for landlord instructions rose for the first time in 16 months, though only very modestly (a net balance of +6%). Despite the slight pick-up in landlord instructions, there is still a mismatch between demand and supply, and rents are therefore expected to rise in the next three months.

Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said: “The latest survey results point to a continued improvement in market sentiment over the month, building on a noticeable pick-up in the immediate aftermath of the General Election.

“It remains to be seen how long this newfound market momentum is sustained for, and political uncertainty may resurface towards the end of the year. But, at this point in time, contributors are optimistic regarding the outlook for activity over the next twelve months.”

Source: Scottish Construction Now

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Activity picks up in the north’s housing market during January, new survey suggests

ACTIVITY picked up in the north’s housing market during January, a new survey conducted within the industry suggests.

The first residential market survey of the new decade from RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) and Ulster Bank, found a rise in the number of new buyer enquiries and instructions to sell.

Largely based on the responses from Northern Ireland estate agents, the latest housing report follows two months of consecutive falls in newly agreed sales.

Optimism is also up within the sector, following the decisive win by the Conservatives in December’s general election and the restoration of the Stormont Executive.

But the rise in activity has prompted RICS to once again highlight the availability of housing stock as a key challenge within the market.

The body reported anecdotal response to the survey, citing an insufficient supply of resale properties.

Residential property spokesperson for RICS in Northern Ireland, Samuel Dickey, said: “There has been a clear improvement in sentiment in the housing market with local as well as national political developments likely to be a factor.

“The rise in new sales instructions coming onto the market is a noteworthy and much needed development, given the lack of fresh listings over the past few years.

“Political uncertainty may resurface towards the end of the year but, at this point in time, contributors are optimistic regarding the outlook for activity over the next twelve months.”

Head of personal banking at Ulster Bank, Terry Robb said the lender had noticed a rise in mortgage enquiries and interest in the early part of the year.

“This will likely translate into good sales activity in the months ahead, particularly if more homes come onto the market and available for sale.”

The Northern Ireland survey mirrored similar reports of positive uptakes in the housing market from across the UK.

Property portals OnTheMarket.com and Rightmove both recently reported seeing record traffic to their websites in January.

Last week, Halifax reported that UK house prices increased by 0.4 per cent month-on-month in January – although that report said that it was too early to say if a corner has been turned.

Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said: “The latest survey results point to a continued improvement in market sentiment over the month, building on a noticeable pick-up in the immediate aftermath of the general election.

“The rise in new sales instructions coming onto the market is a noteworthy and much needed development, given the lack of fresh listings over the past few years had pushed stock levels to record lows.

“It remains to be seen how long this newfound market momentum is sustained for, and political uncertainty may resurface towards the end of the year.

“But, at this point in time, contributors are optimistic regarding the outlook for activity over the next 12 months.”

By Ryan McAleer

Source: Irish News

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UK Housing Market on the Up, Says RICS

The UK housing market seems to be gathering pace following last month’s General Election, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

The latest RICS survey revealed an increase in both the number of sales and buyer enquiries in December for the first time in seven months. According to RICS, house prices across the country are set to rise in 2020 due to a less volatile political and economic climate following the Conservatives landslide election win last month.

The figures were boosted by a sharp increase in sales in London and the South East of England, although in Scotland and Northern Ireland property sales fell. Heightened interest from new buyers in Wales and the North East of England also helped to drive up expectations for the year ahead.

According to the survey, 66% of RICS members expect positive house sales growth over the next year, a massive jump from the 35% that expected it just a month ago.

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

“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 more upbeat trend in transactions emerging with potential purchasers being more comfortable in following through on initial enquiries.

“The ongoing 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.

“Given that affordability remains a key issue in many parts of the country, the shift in the mood-music on prices is a concern with even London expectations pointing to a reversal of course both over the coming months and looking further out.

“This highlights the critical importance of the government addressing the challenge around housing supply particularly with the gradual phasing out of the Help to Buy incentive.”

Independent property expert Henry Pryor said: “Transaction volumes have held up well last year but while it feels like there may be a little more life in the market and some signs of confidence returning to the middle and upper ends there is no actual evidence of a Boris Bounce just yet.

“The data won’t be available until May as it takes time for sales that are agreed to exchange and complete and then another month to appear in the official records. However, it does seem like more people are thinking of moving, more homes are coming to market, and some buyers are bored of putting their lives on hold and want to get on with their lives.

“Will it last? Well, there are still some big icebergs ahead of us – the Budget next month, ongoing negotiations with Europe, a possible return of the Beast from the East. Any one of these could knock confidence and snuff out the fragile optimism, but if you want to buy or sell it looks like 2020 may be your year after all.”

Source: Money Expert

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UK house prices fall at fastest rate in seven months – RICS

UK house prices dropped last month by the most since April, as uncertainty about Brexit and the election weighed on the property market, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said on Thursday.

The RICS survey – released on the day Britain votes in a national election intended to break a parliamentary deadlock over Brexit – showed home-buyers and sellers stuck on the sidelines.

The monthly house price balance declined to -12 in November, its lowest since April, from -5 in October.

The number of new buyers and sellers continued to fall – though the drop in sales seemed to be bottoming out and the proportion of surveyors who expected a rebound in activity over the next year rose to its highest since February 2017.

“Whatever happens in the general election today, it is important that the new government provides reassurance both over the stewardship of the economy and the ongoing challenges around Brexit,” RICS chief economist Simon Rubinsohn said.

Britain’s housing market has slowed since June 2016’s Brexit referendum. Prices have fallen in London and surrounding areas, where a rise in property purchase taxes bit hardest and concerns about Brexit were high.

Official data has shown that British house prices rose by 1.3% in the year to September and a Reuters poll of economists has forecast a 1.5% rise for 2020.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson intends to take Britain out of the European Union by Jan. 31, if he wins Thursday’s election. Most opposition parties have said they want a second referendum.

Reporting by David Milliken

Source: UK Reuters

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UK house prices slip as market awaits election – RICS

A measure of British house prices edged down in October but there were signs that buyers and sellers were sitting on the sidelines at least until next month’s election, a survey published on Thursday showed.

In the latest sign of weakness in the housing market against a backdrop of Brexit uncertainty, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said its house price index slipped to -5 from -3 in September.

That was a touch below the median forecast of -4 in a Reuters poll of economists.

New sales instructions fell for a fourth month but less severely than in September when they tumbled at the fastest pace since Britain voted to leave the EU in a referendum in 2016, and there were signs they would remain weak.

New buyer enquiries and agreed sales remained negative too.

But near-term sales expectations improved and sales were expected to be broadly stable over the next three months in most of the country, RICS said.

“The latest survey feedback continues to suggest that both buyer and seller activity remains in a holding pattern, hampered by political and economic uncertainty,” Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said.

“Given the upcoming general election next month, it appears unlikely that these trends will pick-up to any meaningful extent over the remainder of this year.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called an election for Dec. 12 in an attempt to break the impasse in parliament over his plan for Brexit.

Writing by William Schomberg

Source: Yahoo Finance UK

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UK housing market shows some signs of recovery – RICS survey

UK housing market showed tentative signs of recovery in June as interest among buyers rose for the first time since shortly after the 2016 Brexit referendum and sales also staged a rare increase, a survey showed on Thursday.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) house price measure – the difference between members reporting price rises and falls – improved to -1, the strongest reading since August last year, from a revised -9 in May.

The reading was stronger than a median forecast of -12 in a Reuters poll of economists and RICS said it pointed to flat property prices over the next two quarters.

Prices in London and the south east of England continued to fall but rose across the rest of the country.

Britain’s housing market slowed sharply after voters decided to leave the European Union more than three years ago, but several indicators have suggested a stabilisation in recent months.

“The latest data provides further evidence of the sales market settling down,” Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said in a statement.

“But I don’t get the impression from the insight provided by contributors that this is fuelling hope of a significantly more active market going forward. Many of the factors that have provided a challenge during the first half of the year remain unresolved.”

EU leaders in April delayed Britain’s deadline for the leaving the bloc until the end of October and investors are increasingly worried at the lack of clarity.

Both contenders to become Britain’s next prime minister have said they are prepared for a no-deal Brexit if necessary.

RICS said its survey showed new buyer interest rose for the first time since November 2016 and newly agreed sales edged into positive territory for the first time in 28 months.

There were also signs that sellers were feeling more confident — RICS’ new instructions indicator turned positive for the first time in a year.

Reporting by William Schomberg, editing by Andy Bruce

Source: Yahoo Finance UK

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UK housing market shows scant sign of recovery in April – RICS

UK housing market showed little sign of recovery in April as properties put up for sale fell the fastest rate since 2016, according to a survey on Thursday that added to downbeat signals from the housing market ahead of Brexit.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ (RICS) gauge of house prices held at -23 in April, still close to February’s level of -27, the weakest in almost eight years.

While official data show house prices have been rising across the country as a whole, prices in London have fallen, hit by unaffordable prices for many buyers, tax changes affecting rental properties and Brexit uncertainty which has weighed heavily on the capital.

“Although there are signs of greater realism on pricing from vendors, there is little conviction in the feedback from respondents to the survey that activity in the housing market will pick-up anytime soon,” RICS chief economist Simon Rubinsohn said.

Bank of England data last week showed British lenders approved the fewest mortgages since December 2017 in March, and that consumer borrowing slowed sharply in the run-up to the original Brexit deadline of March 29.

“Significantly, the key RICS buyer enquiries indicator remains subdued and sales expectations looking a year out are only modestly positive,” Rubinsohn said.

Reporting by Andy Bruce

Source: UK Reuters

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Rics Housing Market Outlook is Worst for 20 Years

The outlook for the UK housing market over the next three months is the worst its been for 20 years, according to a recent report from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Total sales are expected to be flat or negative over the next quarter, with uncertainty over Brexit one of the main factors. The market is also being negatively affected by a lack of supply and low affordability, an ongoing trend throughout 2018.

Statistics from the report show that a net balance of 28% of RICS members expect a fall in sales over the following three months, which is the worst reading since the series was established in 1999. A net balance of 19% of surveyors saw house prices fall in December rather than rise, higher than the balance of 11% shown in November. New buyer inquiries also declined for the fifth month in a row. The number of new properties entering the market also fell in December, continuing a six-month trend.

“We experienced a slowing down in the local property market from last summer onwards with a lot of it down to the Brexit unknowns,” said David Knights, an estate agent at Knights of David Brown & Co in Ipswich. “Uncertainty causes people to sit on their hands. When buyers don’t know what’s going to happen you can understand them being careful about how much they’re prepared to offer.”

Simon Rubinsohn, chief economist at RICS, said: “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.”

According to data from the Office for National Statistics, in October last year the average house price in the UK was £230,630, a fall of 0.1% from the previous month.

Surveyors were a little more optimistic about the long-term prospects for the country’s housing market, suggesting that after Britain’s planned departure from the EU at the end of March the market should react positively and start growing again.

“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,” said Rubinsohn.

David Knights said: “We’re not going to see an instant rebound once Brexit is out of the way, but I think we’ll see progression over the year. There are really no signs that we are going to have similar problems that we experienced in 2007 and 2008.”

The level of stock on estate agents’ books are almost at a record low, with a current average of only 42 properties per branch. Additionally, landlord instructions had declined in every month last year. Rubinsohn believes that once the supply increases, the difficulties seen in the market should start to subside.

“It is hard to see developers stepping up the supply pipeline in this environment,” said Rubinshohn. “Getting to the government’s 300,000 building target was never going to be easy but pushing up to anywhere near this figure will require significantly greater input from other delivery channels including local authorities taking advantage of their new-found freedom.”

Source: Money Expert

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RICS warns that agents will have a tough time of it next year

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors warns today that the UK housing market has a tough year ahead of it.

The RICS is forecasting that overall sales volumes will be down by around 5%, while house price growth is likely to stall – although lack of supply should prevent outright falls.

The RICS is also predicting that rental price growth will accelerate slightly next year, because of a declining availability of homes to let.

The organisation said that the housing market has lacked impetus this year, due to Brexit uncertainty, lack of homes on agents’ books, affordability issues, and the possibility of interest rate rises.

It says: “In the past two years sales activity has declined and annual completed transactions remain significantly below the 1.7m high in 2006.

“Given the obstacles in the current market it is anticipated that activity will weaken further.

“As sales activity continues to falter, house price growth will continue to fade in the first half of the year, and is expected to come to a standstill by mid-2019.”

Hew Edgar, head of policy at the RICS, said: “Looking at transaction levels, residential property taxation is in urgent need of review; and this goes for both SDLT and the current council tax system.

“Both affect buying behaviours and therefore market activity, with council tax being particularly outdated.

“If the Government wish to alleviate market concerns, that will persist Brexit or otherwise, then all possibly approaches and outcomes should be considered, including looking at tackling the rising number of long-term empty homes.

“These number 250,000 across the UK – a figure that borders on the Government’s new homes target.”

Belvoir agreed with the RICS forecast for next year, saying that in a market with falling property transactions more people will be likely to rent.

Chris Cooper, of London firm Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Kay, said: “With uncertainty still swamping parts of the sales market, 2019 is set to be a big year for lettings.

“We’ve seen a great level of demand right the way through the year, from both domestic and international tenants, even those within the EU, and I can’t see that this will slow down in the foreseeable future.”

Residential property management firm FirstPort said that next year will be when Build to Rent really has to deliver at speed and scale.

It said that new investors in the UK Build to Rent market would emerge from Canada, the USA, France and the Netherlands.

Alexandra Morris, managing director of lettings platform MakeUrMove, said she expects the housing market to slow down dramatically next year.

Forecasting that home movers would slam the brakes on plans to buy or sell, she said: “Because it will be a time of uncertainty, it’s likely that people will be more cautious about making commitments such as buying property.

“Buying conditions may also become more difficult. Instead, it’s likely larger landlords will grow in 2019 as they acquire these properties because they will be able to spread the risk.

“With uncertainty about the rights of EU workers if the UK leaves without a deal, areas of the country where landlords provide accommodation to large EU migrant communities could also be affected next year.

“If EU workers return to the continent, there will be a host of empty houses and flats. Landlords will be hit financially if they can’t find new tenants to let the properties.

“This will have a knock-on effect on rental prices. In areas where there is then an oversupply of rental properties, landlords will be forced to reduce rents or sell.”

She also forecast that the tenants’ fee ban will not come in until next autumn.

Source: Property Industry Eye