East of England's housing market still slowing down, RICS finds

Northern Ireland's housing market is the most confident in the UK with five years of increasing prices and predictions of more growth according to a survey

Northern Ireland's housing market is the most confident in the UK with five years of increasing prices and predictions of more growth according to a survey

House prices in London fell last month at the fastest pace since April but there were strong gains away from southern England, giving a broadly flat picture overall, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said on Thursday. In Wales, 39 per cent reported an increase in prices.

Sales volumes at a national level were the weakest in five months, but this mostly reflected a sluggish market in regions neighboring London, with solid demand in Northern Ireland and southwest England. Nationally, 10% more respondents recorded a fall rather than rise in sales activity in August, which represents the most negative reading in five months.

The survey also found lack of supply is continuing to weigh on the East of England market, with the average inventory of unsold stock on estate agents' books close to historic lows, RICS said.

Despite this, buyer appetite is still reportedly strong in Northern Ireland and Yorkshire and Humberside. "The story in London and the South East is, as has been widely recognised, rather more challenging but it is important that this is not seen as being indicative of the wider market".

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A net balance of +22 per cent of respondents expect prices to rise over the next three months and a net balance of +34 percent expect sales to increase in the same timeframe.

In the longer term, RICS said its members expected rents to grow faster than house prices.

"During August, we saw fewer viewings of properties, but those that have taken place are more serious and sales are being agreed.The number of new instructions eased back during the course of August, however, as we move further into September, we should see them pick up again. Whether or not this signals the start of the private rental sector beginning to settle now that those in the BTL space have had time to assess the impact of Section 24 and plan their finances accordingly, however, remains to be seen". A further decline in rental stocks is a direct effect of landlords exiting the sector, a sector that was already in desperate need of more rental stock to meet demand, not less.

"It is clearly very hard to talk about the housing market. without being acutely aware of the marked differences in trends across the UK. This should help increase sales activity in the months ahead".

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