RICS has revealed a steady slow down across the UK housing market, with new buyer enquiries, agreed sales and instructions all falling.

Key Findings

  • This is the sixth consecutive month all three have fallen together.
  • 77% of respondents to their latest survey cited Brexit uncertainty as a factor in holding back activity in the market.
  • The twelve-month outlook has remained generally positive in the hope that greater clarity will emerge after March 29.
  • Buyer demand fell for the seventh consecutive month in February as 41% more respondents reported a fall in the number of new buyer enquiries,
  • Volume of agreed sales also slipped, with the indicator now having displayed a flat or negative trend since March 2016.
  • As the lack of stock, in addition to Brexit, appears to be holding back buyer demand, 29% of contributors reported a decline in new instructions being listed over the month.

Simon Rubinsohn, RICS Chief Economist, said: “Although activity in the housing market continues to be weighted down by the lack of available stock, changes in the tax regime affecting property, and affordability; feedback to the latest RICS survey makes it pretty clear that the ongoing uncertainty around how Brexit will play out is the critical factor influencing both buyers and sellers. And with little sign that the issue will be resolved anytime soon, it could prove to be a challenging spring for the housing market and the wider economy.

It is clear from professionals working in the market that this environment requires a greater degree of realism from those looking to move. A reluctance from some vendors to acknowledge the shift in the balance of power in the market will compound the difficulty in executing transactions.”

Hew Edgar, RICS Head of Policy (Interim), said: “It is clear from recent month’s survey results that the wearisome state of British politics that has arisen from Brexit – particularly in the last six months – continues to take their toll on UK housing. Taking Brexit out the equation, there are clear issues that need to be tackled such as supply; a disputable SDLT framework; and a faltering PRS system. All of which have been overshadowed, and have therefore not received the much needed parliamentary discussion and debate.

UK Parliamentarians must recognise that the prolonged uncertainty without effort to address separate key issues in the UK, is damaging confidence in the housing sector, and we share the resounding sentiment of frustration from our professionals.”