January 2019: UK Residential Market Survey

Short-term indicators point to further weakness

  • Activity measures for both buyers and sellers continue to slip
  • Price balance softens again at the national level, led by London and the South East
  • Lettings market faring better, with demand rising modestly

 

The January 2019 RICS UK Residential Market Survey results continue to signal a subdued backdrop, with enquiries, sales and new instructions all falling further over the month. In the near term, contributors sense little prospect of a turnaround, as concerns over the potential impact of Brexit continue to cause hesitancy, alongside affordability constraints in parts of the country. While shorter-term sentiment remains downbeat, expectations at the 12 month horizon are modestly positive.

During January, new buyer enquiries fell again marking the sixth successive monthly decline and demand softened across virtually all parts of the UK. Scotland was the slight exception, but even here the trend was only flat.

Alongside weakening demand, the flow of properties being listed on the sales market also reduced with the net balance reading the poorest since July 2016. Moreover, the pipeline for future sales instructions still appears weak, evidenced by survey participants continuing to report the number of appraisals being down on an annual comparison.

Rounding off a subdued month for market activity, agreed sales also fell further, with the pace of decline seemingly gathering momentum compared to the December results. Meanwhile, the average time taken to sell a property, from listing to completion, continued to lengthen, reaching 19.4 weeks (the longest since this series was introduced back in 2017).

Looking ahead, sales expectations for the coming three months remain downbeat, both at the national level and across most parts of the UK. Indeed. The outlook further down the line seems a little stronger.