House prices are falling, says RICS survey

Over half of estate agents are reporting house price falls in October, the latest Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors UK Housing Market survey shows.

In October 55% say prices fell in the last three months compared to 44% in September and 38% in August.

Just 4% thought prices had risen while 41% reported that prices remained the same.

Buyer enquiries fell for the fifth month in a row with continued lack of mortgage finance and a cautious attitude from purchasers saw 12% more agents reporting a fall.

Instructions to the market, saw 4% fewer agents reporting a fall in October compared with 22% more reporting a rise in September.

This is the first drop in supply since January when the extreme weather conditions contributed to the very low level of new stock coming to the market.

The average number of stocks on surveyors’ books fell to 67.2, down from 69.1. Completed sales fell to an average of 15.2 per surveyor, this is the worst reading since June 2009 and highlights the failure of transaction activity to benefit in a meaningful way from either from the current stamp duty holiday or the stronger than expected GDP data over the past couple of quarters.

Reflecting this, the sales to stock ratio, a good indicator of the underlying condition of the market, also fell to its lowest level since July 2009.

Respondents to the survey report that the market is generally cautious, with many buyers signalling that they are going to wait until the spring to make a decision.

RICS spokesperson Jeremy Leaf says: “With both supply and demand falling transaction activity is set to remain at relatively flat levels for the foreseeable future.  Agents may be cautious about what this could mean for house prices in the short term, but dramatic falls are likely to be limited by a gradual drying up of stock coming to the market.

“It is also worth noting that a subdued housing market is not good news for an economy which requires a high degree of mobility to take advantage of job opportunities.”