Demand Stabilises in May

 

  • New buyer enquiries steady over the month
  • Indicators on sales, prices and new instructions remain slightly negative
  • Expectations point to a gradual improvement in activity over the next twelve months

 

Results of the  May 2019 RICS UK Residential Market Survey point to a slightly more stable picture coming through over the month. Indeed, new buyer enquiries held steady, while the negative trend in agreed sales, new instructions and prices diminished to a certain degree. Having said that, near term expectations are still a little downbeat, although perceived outlook for both sales and prices still signals a modest recovery further out.

At the national level, new buyer enquiries were virtually unchanged when compared to the April results. This marks the first report since July 2018 in which survey participants did not cite a decline in buyer demand. Even so, agreed sales continued to slip for a tenth successive month. This was the least negative reading for the sales indicator going back to last December. The regional breakdown shows transaction volumes picked up modestly in Wales and the North of England, although the trend was either flat or negative across all other parts of the UK.

Looking ahead, sales expectations for the next three months are still consistent with a further decline in activity. However, further out, respondents continue to envisage a modest improvement in sales volumes at the twelve month horizon. When disaggregated, contributors across the North West of England returned the strongest sales expectations for the coming year, followed by those in the North East.

Meanwhile, new instructions to sell declined yet again during May, the eleventh consecutive month in which they have done so. Less encouragingly though, the number of appraisals undertaken during the survey period remains down on an annual comparison throughout all parts of the UK.

Going forward, near term price expectations remain marginally negative for the country as a whole, although less so than in the April results.

From a regional perspective, virtually all parts of the UK are expected to see some uplift in prices over the year ahead. London remains the sole exception, although even here projections are broadly flat. At the other end of the scale, contributors in Scotland, the North West and the West Midlands returned the strongest expectation for house price growth over the next twelve months.