Political uncertainty behind housing market weakness according to RICS

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The housing market is at its weakest since immediately after the Brexit vote thanks to ongoing political uncertainty according to a survey of chartered surveyors.

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors found that UK housing stock had reached another record low, with agreed sales falling and the number of new instructions falling for the 16th month in a row.

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Respondents to the survey said that price rises across the South of England had stalled and that they expect sales activity to remain depressed for at least the next 12 months.

44% of those surveyed attributed the weakness in the market to domestic political uncertainty flowing the inconclusive general election, which resulted in a hung Parliament, while 27% said they thought uncertainty surrounding Brexit was primarily to blame.

Lucian Cook, head of residential research at Savills, said; “It is uncertainty on the back of more uncertainty, so perhaps it is factored into the survey.

“It confirms our thinking about a slowing rate of house price growth. London is slowing more dramatically than the rest of the country, as it is more exposed to changes in sentiment due to house price growth over the last 10 years and what that did for affordability.”

Malcolm Simpson, an independent financial advisor at Sandringham Financial Partners, agreed that Brexit and the general election result are behind the fall in house prices.

He said; “Future house market trends will be governed by developments in the wider economy. Given that the annual percentage change in house prices in March 2016 stood at 5.7% and is now 2.1%, and we have since had a Brexit referendum result and a general election resulting in no majority, I expect the political uncertainty will continue as a driver.

“Given that we have had three consecutive monthly falls for the first time in four years, I personally would not be surprised if that trend continued further; however, predicting house price movements is notoriously difficult.”

Consumer purchasing power has also been coming under increasing pressure in recent months as inflation grows faster than wages, likely putting some potential homebuyers off due to affordability concerns.

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