RICS reports fall in house prices

House prices edged lower in April, with 19% more chartered surveyors reporting a fall rather than a rise in prices, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Expectations for future prices reached their lowest level this year with a net balance of 17% more respondents predicting further drops, from -3%.

Demand from potential buyers was relatively flat during April as 5% more surveyors reported increases rather than decreases in new buyer enquiries from +10% in March.

Meanwhile new instructions, a good indicator of supply coming onto the housing market, was once again stable as one percent more respondents reported falls rather than rises in new homes coming up for sale. While flat, the level of supply has not seen any significant drops since July last year.

Following the upturn in activity seen towards the expiry of March’s Stamp Duty holiday, in April transaction levels entered negative territory for the first time since September, as 6% more respondents across the UK reported decreases rather than increases in transaction levels.

Looking ahead, while surveyors’ predictions for future prices saw a notable dip, expectations for transaction levels once again remained positive with a net balance of +15% more respondents expecting sales to rise over the coming three months.

Ed Stansfield, property economist at Capital Economics, says: “Given the potential for the end of the first-time buyer Stamp duty holiday in March to have affected the number of active buyers and sellers in the market, we would be wary of reading too much into the recent monthly movements.

“Nevertheless, there is nothing in the latest survey to suggest that the housing market is about to emerge from its current torpor. Equally, however, there was little in the data to suggest that the market is about to take a marked turn for the worse.”