Housing market hit by economic outlook, says Rics

Estate agent The housing market has seen relatively little activity during the year

A growing proportion of surveyors believe that economic uncertainty is holding back housing market activity.

This was considered to be a bigger reason than the availability of mortgages and worries about house price falls, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) said.

However, the latest Rics survey shows a slight rise in buyer demand and sales in November.

Price changes continue to show regional variations, another survey found.

Subdued

New buyer enquiries "increased modestly" for a third consecutive month, the Rics survey showed.

The average number of sales per surveyor branch climbed to 15.4 in the three months to the end of November, compared with 15 a month earlier. This was the highest level since last September.

Slightly more surveyors expected sales to increase in the coming months than the number who expected sales to fall.

However, these slight rises were coming after a sustained period of subdued activity. More surveyors expect prices to fall in the coming months, than the number who expected prices to rise.

Annual house price changes

  • England: down 0.2%
  • Wales: down 0.5%
  • Scotland: down 1.5%
  • Northern Ireland: down 12.1%

Source: DCLG, October 2011

"A meaningful recovery still seems some way off," said Alan Collett, Rics' housing spokesman.

House prices

The government's own house price index shows a continuing variation in how property values are changing across the country.

Across the UK as a whole, house prices were up 0.6% in October compared with the previous month, but down 0.4% on a year earlier, the Department for Communities and Local Government said.

However, over the year to the end of October, prices fell by 0.2% in England, 0.5% in Wales, 1.5% in Scotland, and 12.1% in Northern Ireland.

On a regional basis, London registered a rise in annual house prices of 3.9%, whereas prices dropped by 4.6% over the same period in the north-east of England.

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