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Growing buyer demand fails to translate into sales, says RICS

Buyer interest rose for the fourth consecutive month in February but is failing to materialise into sales, reveals data from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

The latest RICS UK housing market survey shows that in February 20% more surveyors reported a rise in new buyer enquiries, up from 15% in January.

Demand in London has hit levels not seen since October 2006, with 44% more surveyors seeing the level of enquiries increase from potential buyers.

But this has not filtered through to sales, as the number of transactions fell to the lowest figure since the survey began in 1978.

Estate agents have sold an average of just 9.5 properties over the last three months, compared to 9.8 properties in November.

Jeremy Leaf, RICS spokesperson, says: “Potential buyers continue to come through estate agency doors but without mortgage finance transaction levels are likely to remain close to all-time lows.

“Worryingly the lengthy process of obtaining mortgage finance, even for those with large deposits, is contributing towards the blockage in the market place.”

RICS continues to call on the government to introduce guarantees for the new issuance of mortgage-backed securities in a bid to boost lending, especially to first-time buyers.

Leaf adds: “Without further intervention the housing market will continue to stagnate and the opportunity to take advantage of this renewed interest could be lost.

“This will inevitably have serious implications for the wider economy.”

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