UK Housing Buyer Demand Dips as Prices Continue to Rise

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UK Housing Buyer Demand Dips as Prices Continue to Rise

Lack of supply will continue to push up UK house prices despite short term uncertainty. 

  • Demand from buyers drops for the first time since March 2015
  • Prices continue to rise due to continued lack of supply  
  • Long term outlook shows prices continuing to rise across the UK 

Interest from UK house buyers has dropped for the first time since March 2015, as uncertainty continues to affect the market, according to the latest Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Residential Market Survey.

Following the buy-to-let rush  that preceded the 1st April tax rise deadline, and with continued uncertainty caused by the EU Referendum, interest from buyers dropped in April with 22% more chartered surveyors reporting a drop in demand.  The fall in demand is evident across the whole of the UK as buyers continue to show more caution in the face of the impending EU Referendum.

As the market continues to be hampered by uncertainty, sales are forecast to remain flat over the coming three months with the outlook in London significantly worse than other parts of the UK – 22% more respondents in London expect sales to fall over the next three months*.  Despite the drop in demand from buyers prices have continued to rise, although at a more moderate pace, across the UK in April apart from central London which saw a modest decline and the North which saw prices remain flat.

RICS Chief Economist, Simon Rubinsohn, said: “Uncertainty is a word that features heavily in the feedback we are receiving from members responding to the survey and is contributing to the flatter trend in the latest data.

“More ominous is the expectation that both prices and rents will head materially higher over medium term despite existing affordability concerns with the supply pipeline continuing to fall short of household growth notwithstanding the various levers the government is pulling to try and drive development.

“In contrast to the short term issues, the longer term expectation is that house prices will continue to rise as the supply crisis remains. 8% more surveyors have reported a fall in new instructions in April with the lack of stock looking unlikely to ease in the short term.”

Prices are forecast to rise across the whole of the UK over the next 12 months with 61% more chartered surveyors expecting prices to go up across England and Wales. 

Regionally London has lower growth expectations over the coming year than the rest of the UK with prices likely to remain flat, but the outlook for prices remains positive in each part of the UK over the next five years with contributors envisaging growth of between 3% and 5.5% per annum.

Turning to the UK lettings market, surprisingly following the recent increase in demand from buy-to-let investors there has as yet been no noticeable increase in new landlord instructions. Comments suggest that recent policy changes towards the sector are leading to landlords reconsidering their positions in the market. 

As tenant demand increases, 22% more contributors have seen a rise rather than fall, this is more than likely to drive rents higher.  Reflecting the lack stock of all tenures, rental growth is expected to accelerate to an average of 4.6% per annum (3 month average) over the course of the next five years.

 

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