The UK housing market is still on hold, pending election results, with the November 2019 RICS Residential Market Survey continuing to show a cautious approach from buyers and sellers. Demand from prospective buyers, new instructions to sell, and sales, all remain in negative territory, as the latest set of results indicates that persistent economic and political uncertainty is deterring both buyers and vendors, and anecdotal commentary cites the General Election and Brexit as stifling activity.
New buyer enquiries, slipped for the third month in a row in November as 9% more respondents saw a decline in enquiries (rather than a rise). This was seen both at a headline level and across all UK regions. Newly Agreed Sales also saw a fall at the headline level, although at a slower pace with the latest reading moving to -8% from -18%. New instructions to sell also continued to dip at the national level and, in light of this, average stock levels on estate agents’ books remain close to record lows at approximately 41 properties per branch.
Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said: “Confidence is critical to a well-functioning housing market and whatever happens in the general election, it is important that the new government provides reassurance both over the stewardship of the economy and the ongoing challenges around Brexit. 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.”