The latest survey from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has found that the housing market may be turning a corner. The number of surveyors reporting falling rather than rising prices dropped from 86.9% to 83.9%, and the rate of repossessions remains low, while new instructions have picked up in London and the South East according to the report.
However, new buyers enquiries and new sales remained firmly in negative territory in July, says the report, while completed sales also fell. Despite this data, RICS found things may be looking up: ‘In terms of the outlook, the July survey lends further support to the notion that activity may be beginning to stabilise, albeit at a low level,’ says the report. ‘The net balance of surveyors expecting a drop in sales over the next three months edge up while price expectations broadly remained unchanged.’
Regionally there are differences, as different areas are in varying stages of correction while the net balance of surveyors reporting price declines improved in 7 out of the ten regions. The report found that the North and the North West were seeing moderate price falls, with larger falls in Wales. Meanwhile the situation in Northern Ireland matches that of England, while Scotland is just beginning to catch up to the declines already experienced elsewhere in the country.
RICS spokesperson Ian Perry said: ‘The lack of mortgage finance has brought the housing market to a virtual standstill with first-time buyers rapidly becoming an endangered species.
‘Going forward, there are signs that sales activity might pick up a little as sellers start to re-evaluate unrealistic asking prices. However, the current confused messages from the government regarding stamp duty risks damaging any returning confidence and may discourage mobility.’