Country houses for sale

House prices fall further

As many as 64.1% of surveyors reported house price falls rather than gains in February, according to the latest figures from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), an increase from 54.8% in January.

These falls are being driven by weak demand as newly agreed sales also slipped back last month, particularly in London and the South East.

This weak demand is affecting the market despite a lack of supply, says RICS: ‘The stock of unsold property on surveyor’s books jumped more than 8.5%, the fifth monthly consecutive increase in excess of 8%,’ it says.

However, there is some good news in that sales expectations turned positive for the first time since June last year, and price expectations improved for the second consecutive month while the net balance of surveyors expecting a fall in prices over the next three months lessened from -61.6% to -57.6%.

Scotland continues to perform well, but prices are generally falling elsewhere, says the survey and regionally there is a huge difference: in the North of England prices are falling at a lesser rate now than in January, whereas in Northern Ireland they are actually falling more quickly than they were last month.

Seema Shah from Capital Economics said these figures are evidence that would-be buyers are still concerned about how prices are going to change: ‘The message from today’s survey is clear: buyers are increasingly wary that there are more house price falls to come. And with lending criteria being tightened and the economy showing signs of weakness, those fears look well founded.’