UK housing market optimism grows

By Sandy Guthrie12 December 2012

Confidence is continuing to grow in the UK housing market with buyer interest increasing, according to the latest RICS (the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) housing market survey, released this week.

Most parts of the UK saw enquiries from would-be buyers rise last month. This has been the case since the end of the summer, with steady growth and a net balance of +11%. RICS said that although demand was still at a historically low level, it would appear that those who were in a position to do so were gradually looking to test the market.

Meanwhile, the amount of homes coming up for sale remained fairly flat during November (net balance +4%). Very little movement has been seen in terms of new instructions for over two years and this has contributed to the current anaemic state of the market, said RICS.

It added that the sector would be hoping that the government’s recent announcement of funding to free up land for development in England would have the desired impact and increase availability.

Modest price drops were visible in most areas of the UK, albeit at a slower pace than seen earlier in the year. A net balance of 9% more chartered surveyors reported falling prices during November.

London was once again the only part of the UK to see prices increase, with surveyors in the capital reporting a net balance of +40%. Northern Ireland and Wales experienced the most significant drops with respondents in those areas reporting net balances of -49% and -36% respectively.

RICS said that looking ahead, chartered surveyors were optimistic that activity levels should continue their gentle rise with 14% more respondents expecting sales to increase rather than decrease over the coming three months. The price picture is, however, likely remain rather flatter by way of contrast.

Peter Bolton King, RICS global residential director, said, “There is certainly some optimism creeping back into the housing market, and it is encouraging to see an increase in potential buyers across parts of the country where the market has particularly suffered in recent years. That said, there is still a long way to go and the long-standing barriers to home ownership are still very much a problem for the likes of first-time buyers.”

Adding that the announcement in the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Autumn Statement last week of funding to unlock large sites for house building was “a step in the right direction”, he said, “The Funding for Lending scheme is beginning to bear fruit for potential buyers. However, the macro-economic picture continues to weigh heavy on the market and continues to prevent any really significant boost in activity.”

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