Brexit Uncertainty Considered the Overriding Obstacle for the Market

 

  • 77% of respondents cite Brexit uncertainty as the biggest challenge in the market right now
  • Key activity indicators remain in negative territory during February
  • Twelve month sales expectations suggest momentum may recover 

 

The February 2019 RICS UK Residential Survey results continue to signal the market is struggling for momentum, with key indicators on enquiries, sales and new instructions all remaining subdued. In an extra question included this month, aimed at drawing out the most significant force holding back activity at this time, 77% of respondents across the UK cited Brexit uncertainty as the biggest challenge facing the housing market at present.

Focusing on buyers, demand reportedly fell for the seventh consecutive month, as the pace of decline accelerated relative to the January results. Another crucial factor appears to be the lack of stock available on the market, with respondents highlighting this as the second most significant challenge after Brexit uncertainty. The further decline in new instructions being listed recently will only have exacerbated the issue, reflected in the average number of properties on estate agents’ books returning to a record low in February.

The volume of agreed sales also continued to slip, with virtually all parts of the UK displaying a flat or negative trend in the latest results. The average time taken to sell nationally, from listing to completion, was unchanged at 19.4 weeks (the joint longest average since the question was introduced to the survey two years ago). Sentiment regarding the sales outlook for the coming three months remains subdued, although twelve month expectations suggest a slightly more positive trend may emerge.

Sentiment for the year ahead remains very different however, as respondents foresee price growth resuming across most parts of the UK. London and the South East are the only exceptions, with a further decline anticipated in the former and a flat picture for the latter.

 

Locally. The market in Swanage and surrounding villages reflects the national trend. Activity is ongoing but slow with resistance to prices particularly properties over £500,000.

Oliver Miles

March 2019