UK housing market cautious ahead of election

Buyer enquiries are continuing to fall in the UK housing market, which remains cautious pending the result of today’s General Election, according to the latest RICS Residential Market Survey.

RICS announced that demand from prospective buyers, new instructions to sell, and sales have all remained in negative territory, with the latest set of survey results indicating that both buyers and vendors are continuing to be deterred from selling amidst the UK’s political and economic uncertainty.

The survey results revealed that new buyer enquiries slipped for the third month running in November – as 9% more respondents saw a decline in enquiries. RICS said this was seen both at a headline level and across all UK regions.

Newly agreed sales also fell at the headline level, although at a slower pace, with the survey’s latest reading moving to -8% from -18%, while new instructions to sell also continued to dip at the national level.

RICS suggested, however, that change is expected after the result of the election – with sales expectations over the next three months looking more stable. The survey revealed a net balance of +11%, up from from +5%, while the twelve-month outlook also saw the most positive improvement since February 2017, with a +35% net balance.

Commenting on the results of the survey, RICS chief economist, Simon Rubinsohn, said: “Confidence is critical to a well-functioning housing market and 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 – which continues to be highlighted in a disproportionate number of remarks made by respondents to the RICS survey.

“Significantly, despite the inevitable near-term concerns, the feedback regarding the medium-term view of the market remains surprisingly sanguine, with the twelve-month sales expectations indicator at its best level since the early part of 2017.”

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