House prices fell last month, despite demand from buyers stabilising, according to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.
New buyer enquiries remained flat in April, as did agreed sales – after several months of more marked declines.
The biggest house price falls were recorded in London and the South East. In the capital 65 per cent more respondents saw prices fall over the month, rather than rise – the worst reading since February 2009.
Falling prices were also being reported in the South West – the first fall since May 2013. In contrast, respondents reported house prices rising in Northern Ireland and Scotland.
This survey showed that the outlook for house prices over the next three months remained flat, although almost a third more respondents (31 per cent) expected prices to be higher in a year’s time.
However, the outlook for house prices in the capital was more downbeat, with 20 per cent more respondents predicting further price falls in the year ahead.
New buyer activity remains unchanged in April, after four months in which demand has fallen sharply. However, while RICS welcomed a halt to this downward trend it noted that it has now been thirteen months since there was a positive reading for new buyer activity.
In the letting market tenants demand in the three months to April remains stagnant, while the number of new landlord instructions coming onto the rental market fell for the eighth successive quarter, and at a faster rate.
RICS says that the recent tax changes to the buy-to-let market were “visible in these figures”.
RICS chief economist Simon Rubinsohn says: “Given what this says about the buy to let market at the present time, it is imperative that build to rent begins to take on a greater role to ensure those seeking to rent in the private sector over the coming years have sufficient choice.”
Rubinsohn adds: “The housing market typically tends to see a pick up in activity at around this time of the year, and the feedback from respondents does seem to be capturing this tone.
“However, once this seasonal pattern has been allowed for the underlying trend in transactions still remains broadly flat.”