The RICS Residential Market Survey for November 2019 continues to show a cautious approach from buyers and sellers. Demand from prospective buyers, new instructions to sell, and sales all remain in negative territory.  Persistent economic and political uncertainty is deterring both buyers and vendors, and anecdotal commentary cites the General Election and Brexit as stifling activity. However, there must be light at the end of the tunnel after the General Election result.

New buyer enquiries slipped for the third month in a row in November as more respondents saw a decline in enquiries (rather than a rise). There were also fewer newly agreed sales. New instructions to sell also continued to dip at the national level and, average stock levels on estate agents' books remain close to record lows at approximately 41 properties per branch.

There is change expected, however, following the result of the General Election with sales expectations over the next three months looking more stable as well as the twelve-month outlook seeing the most positive sentiment since February 2017. Looking at regions individually, a solid increase in transactions over the next 12 months is expected across virtually all areas covered by this survey.

Prices are also expected to pick up over the next 12 months, with more respondents in the November survey anticipating house prices will rise (rather than fall) over the next twelve months.

Looking at prices in the current market, the headline price balance slipped in November following three months of broadly flat readings. This is consistent with a modest decline in house prices. However, the regional breakdown suggests that this appears to mainly a result of negative price trends across London, South East and East Anglia.

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, which continues to be highlighted in a disproportionate number of remarks made by respondents to the RICS survey. Significantly, 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."

Oliver Miles FRICS FISVA

Chartered Surveyor RICS Registered Valuer                           17th December 2019