UK Housing Market: Limited Supply Holds Back Spring Bounce

Take heart, we’re not the only ones waiting for a full-fledged spring, the latest RICS survey suggests the UK housing market is also waiting for temperatures to rise.

House prices in the UK have seen a noticeable slowdown over the last two years, and despite Brexit being kicked down the road to October, things haven’t perked up much for the property market. Brexit uncertainty, coupled with a lack of available stock, continue to make people feel nervous about buying and selling their homes and there seems to be little sense of a turnaround anytime soon.

According to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) sentiment survey, the balance between the proportion of surveyors seeing house prices rise to those seeing a fall in April has remained unchanged at -23%. This is in line with recently released government numbers which suggest average prices in the UK grew by a marginal 0.6% in February compared to a year earlier - the smallest rise since September 2012.

Despite all the doom and gloom, it’s worth noting that price expectations for UK houses over the next twelve months are modestly positive

London and the South East appear to be the weakest link where things appear to be particularly troubling, as prices in London alone fell by 3.8% year-on-year. Brexit uncertainty, coupled with changes to stamp duty and tax treatment of rental income, has hit the capital harder than the rest of the country. Property valuations in London are typically much higher and rental yields lower than in other UK regions.

But there is also a clear divergence in the number of properties on the market. In London, estate agents are reporting fairly average levels of properties on their books, resulting in very poor sales-to-stock ratios, and thereby putting further pressure on prices. Elsewhere in the country, the stock is much more limited and in many cases, well below average. The RICS survey suggests fewer properties are coming to the market too, as sellers continue to withhold stock thereby limiting choice for potential buyers. A net balance of 35% of surveyors has seen a fall in instructions during April - the poorest reading since June 2016.

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The information does not constitute investment recommendation, and nor is it investment, legal or tax advice or an offer or solicitation to purchase or sell any financial instrument. more

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