Supply of homes for sale at three-year low amid Brexit wrangling

Supply of homes for sale at three-year low amid Brexit wrangling
File photo dated 01/03/15 of a row of estate and letting agent signs displayed outside houses in Clapton, east London. The flow of homes coming on to the market is at its weakest level in three years as "endless wrangling about Brexit" continues

The flow of homes coming on to the UK market is at its weakest level in three years as "endless wrangling about Brexit" continues, according to surveyors.

An overall net balance of 37% of surveyors reported the supply of homes being put up for sale decreasing rather than increasing in September - the weakest reading since June 2016 - the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) said.

Average stock levels on estate agents' books therefore remain near record lows, its UK housing market survey found.

The number of new inquiries from buyers and agreed sales is also falling back.

Rics said that anecdotal commentary from property professionals points to the cause of the subdued picture being heightened economic and political uncertainty.

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The market seems unlikely to gain impetus over the next three months, although sentiment for a year ahead is a little more resilient, it said.

House prices across the UK remain flat generally, but, while the picture in London and the South East is weaker, by contrast there are "solid" price gains in Northern Ireland, Scotland and the North West of England, Rics said.

House prices in Scotland are rising. The RICS) residential market survey found a net balance of +18% of respondents reported house prices rising in the past three months. Across the UK, this figure was -2%.

However, as in the rest of the UK the survey found levels of activity in Scotland's housing market has fallen back in the past month.

Inquiries by potential new buyers were reported as lower in September than in August, with a net balance of -15%.

There was also a drop in levels of newly-agreed sales, at a net balance of -20%, and in new instructions to sell with a net balance of -12%.

In the short-term, respondents pointed to political uncertainty around Brexit impacting the market, but taking a longer-term view a net balance of +45% expected house prices to be higher than present in a year's time.

Respondent Greg Davidson, of Graham + Sibbald in Perth, said: "Continued political uncertainty is holding back an otherwise stable market.
"This is stifling supply which restricts normal market movements."

Speaking about the whole of the UK, Simon Rubinsohn, Rics chief economist, said: "There are good reasons for thinking the latest dip in both buyer inquiries and vendor instructions is a response to the endless wrangling about Brexit, as the October 31 deadline approaches.

"Unless there is a speedy resolution to the ongoing impasse, it does seem inevitable that the stand-off between purchasers and sellers will deepen, making it harder to complete transactions.

"This will not only be a direct hit on the housing market itself but could have ramifications for the wider economy as the normal spend on furniture, fittings and appliances that typically accompanies a house move is also put on hold."

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