Buyer interest not translating into sales, says RICS

The average number of transactions per surveyor showed little fluctuation over the last three months despite buyer interest rising for the third successive month, shows the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors UK housing market survey.

The average number of transactions per agency over the last three months is now at 9.9, a small drop from 10.0 in December, and the lowest figure since the survey began in 1978.

The balance of surveyors reporting house price falls increased slightly in December with 76.3% more chartered surveyors indicating a fall than rise in house prices, compared to 73.9% the previous month.

Significantly, interest in the market continued to pick up with 16% more chartered surveyors reporting a rise than a fall in new buyer enquiries.

As both house prices and interest rates fall, those with finance are looking for bargain opportunities. Interest is strongest in Wales while the balance in London continues to edge upwards.

Expectations that sales will increase have turned positive once again with 10% more chartered surveyors expecting sales to pick up in the coming months.

Optimism is most visible in London and across the South of England with the balance of surveyors expecting sales to increase in London rising from 18% to 38%. In contrast Chartered Surveyors expect house prices to continue to decline in the near term.

A spokesman for RICs, says: “The latest survey provides further evidence of the eagerness of buyers to try and pick up bargains.

“This interest has yet to translate into sales but transactions may pick up in the coming months if the government follows through on its recent announcement and introduces guarantees for the issuance of residential mortgage backed securities.

“The latest cut in interest rates may improve confidence for those on the margins, encouraging buyers looking for more attractive finance deals.”