Housing market hit by bad weather

Housing market activity was hit by last month’s snow as buyer interest and the level of new instructions fell, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Some 32% more chartered surveyors reported a rise rather than a fall in house prices up from 30% in December.

But surveyors also reported that buyer enquiries fell for the first time in 14 months while new instructions dropped for the first time in seven months.

A further 20% more chartered surveyors reported a fall than a rise in new buyer enquiries last month, down from a positive reading of 18% in December.

A net balance of 5% of surveyors saw a decline in new instructions which compares with a positive balance of 15% in December.

RICS says that the effects of last month’s bad weather were brought to bear as newly agreed sales also fell for the first time in ten months.

But surveyors are confident these figures are a short-term blip for the housing market, and that house prices and sales over the next three months are set to rise.

The number of sales per surveying firm fell from 19 to 18 while the closely watched sales-to-stock ratio – a measure of market slack and a lead indicator of future prices – fell for the second consecutive month.

A spokesman for RICS says: “The cold snap in January clearly has a huge impact upon both supply and demand in the housing market with activity coming to a halt amidst the seasonal chaos.

“Activity and interest is likely to pick up in the coming months as the market experiences a spring bounce.

“House prices are likely to rise in the short-term but if more supply continues to come onto the market, it is possible that the market will run out of steam in the latter part of the year.”