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House price momentum in the UK continued to slow and new buyer demand tailed off in October, according to the latest Residential Market Survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. Nationally, new buyer demand slipped for the fourth consecutive month with London bearing the brunt of the decline, as 62% more surveyors reported a fall in new buyer demand across the capital. Meanwhile across the rest of the UK dipped to a net balance of -18%. As a result of the weaker trend in buyer interest, sales expectations are now at their lowest point since the beginning of the year and the picture regarding near term price expectations is not dissimilar. But Scotland and Northern Ireland have the most optimistic view on house prices in the run up to Christmas with net balances of 36% and 37% respectively. Meanwhile, stock coming onto the market remained virtually unchanged in October with a net balance of -2%, continuing the trend which has been in place for much of the past year. As a result, even with the dip in demand, much anecdotal evidence from surveyors points to an ongoing challenge in securing adequate new instructions. At a national level, the slowdown in buyer activity in the sales market stands in marked contrast to the lettings market, where tenant demand continues to grow strongly. Over the last quarter, this has particularly been the case in East Anglia, the north of England and Scotland and rent expectation remain generally firm with respondents’ anticipating an increase of around 2.5% over the next twelve months across the whole of the country. ‘The flatter trend in the market is partly a reflection of potential buyers becoming a little more cautious about making a purchase as more stringent lending criteria has made it harder to access mortgage finance,’ said Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist. ‘An increasing awareness of the approaching general election also appears to be contributing to the softer market if the responses to the latest survey are anything to go by. However, with new instructions still flat at a headline level as has been the case for most of the last year it seems implausible that the dip in demand will result in very much of a decline in house prices,’ he explained. ‘Meanwhile, demand to rent property is growing as the sales market slows and this, coupled with a drop in supply of new stock to let, is helping to underpin the rental outlook for landlords pretty much across the whole of the country,’ he added. Continue reading →
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