Surveyors predict house sales slump amid uncertainty

Written by Oliver Wade

Fresh fears for the future of London’s property market were introduced this morning, with a new survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) forecasting the lowest level of growth in the capital in two decades.

As uncertainty consumes both buyers and sellers, surveyors are predicting in record numbers that activity in the capital will remain negative over the next three months. This will follow on from the “continued” slip in December that saw sales volumes dwindling.

However, despite the short-term outlook being “either flat or negative”, Rics reported that the twelve-month outlook is a “little more upbeat”, suggesting that some of the near-term pessimism is associated with the lack of clarity around what form of departure the UK might make from the European Union in March.

The latest report marked the poorest reading since the survey began in 1999, with approximately 41 per cent more respondents predicting that property prices will continue to fall, rather than rise, in the near term.

Commenting on the report, Rics chief economist Simon Rubinsohn 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.

“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.”

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