RICS: Sellers test the market in the face of uncertain economic outlook (UK)

September saw an influx of new instructions as homeowners tested the property market, driven by concerns over the future of the economy, says the latest RICS UK Housing Market survey (October 12, 2010).

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Demand for property remains subdued as buyers continue to struggle to find mortgage finance.

22% more chartered surveyors reported a rise rather than a fall in new instructions, up from 12% in August. The increase appears to come as homeowners test the market ahead of further public spending cuts, or try to sell before a possible deterioration in the economy. Regionally, the North saw the biggest leap in new instructions, while London, the South West and Yorkshire and The Humber also reported large increases in seller activity.

Meanwhile, demand for property remains subdued, as buyers continue to struggle to find mortgage finance, or wait to see what will happen to the market over the coming months. The net balance for new buyer enquiries remained negative at -2, however, this is up from -17 the month before.

As a result of the imbalance between supply and demand, prices continue to edge lower. 36% more surveyors reported a fall rather than rise in house prices in September, down slightly from a net balance of -32 the month before. That said, roughly half of the respondents to the survey suggested that prices were broadly stable. Expectations for prices also fell, with 41% more surveyors anticipating prices to fall rather than rise, the lowest level since March 2009.

More positively, the number of agreed sales has stabilized, increasing from -20 to 0. Looking ahead, surveyors' future expectations for sales remain positive, with 11% more surveyors expecting sales to rise rather than fall.

Commenting, RICS spokesperson, Ian Perry said: "The fresh influx of property to the market combined with a lack of buyers remains the key problem affecting the sector. First time buyers are in particularly short supply as the high deposits required by lenders prevent them from taking their first steps on the property ladder.

"Without sufficient demand property prices continue to slip back. However, many areas are reporting a correction rather than dramatic falls in prices and vendors who are prepared to be realistic with pricing are still able to achieve a sale. It's very much a buyers market at the moment."

Source: RICS

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