Shortage of up supply pushing up UK house prices

House prices are continuing to rise across the UK driven by an ongoing shortage of new properties coming on to the market, according to the latest monthly survey report.

The report from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors also shows that prices are rising at the fastest pace in East Anglia, the South East and the East Midlands. However, in London the rate of price growth is slowing for the fourth consecutive month.

Driving the rise in prices, the number of new properties coming on the market fell for the tenth consecutive month. In November 8% more respondents reported a decrease in new homes coming on to the market.

The report points out that this is a trend that has persisted since the beginning of 2014. On average over the past six months buyer demand has outpaced supply across all regions.

Indeed, the number of properties on surveyor’s books reached a new low in November. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the lack of stock is holding back transaction levels and agreed sales were flat in November across the UK as a whole.

Last year’s stamp duty changes are also mentioned as holding back the prime market in some areas of the UK, most notably London and the South East.

Although supply is currently holding back sales, respondents across the UK are positive on the outlook for the coming months, with 47% more chartered surveyors expecting to see a rise rather than a fall in activity, up from 34% in October and is the highest reading for nearly two years.

‘This is likely to be the result of new housing policies announced in this year’s Autumn Statement. New Help to Buy and Starter Homes initiatives, aimed at increasing access to home ownership, are likely to result in increased sales over the coming months,’ said Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist.

However, the view is still that price levels will continue to rise perhaps signalling the view from respondents that although new house building is expected to increase the belief is that this will not be enough to take the market back to more sustainable levels,’ he explained.

‘As other changes in the Autumn statement perhaps start to influence the market, although buyer demand increased on a national level at a subdued pace, London and East Anglia both saw a decline in demand with 5% more respondents seeing a fall rather than rise in the capital, and 16% more seeing a fall rather than rise in the East,’ he pointed out.

He believes that this may suggest that the timing of Help to Buy may be causing some buyers to hold back and this is borne out by the sales expectations in London over the next three months, with 49% more chartered surveyors expecting a rise this is the strongest reading in the UK.

‘I can’t recall a set of comments in the residential survey which have so frequently drawn attention to lack of stock on the market. Given this, it's hard not to envisage prices continuing to climb upwards as we move through the early stages of 2016,’ said Rubinsohn.

‘It remains to be seen how successful the government’s latest set of initiatives will be in driving up the rate of new build but with the best will in the world, it is likely that the boost to demand will come through rather more rapidly than the expansion of the development pipeline,’ he added.

‘A material rise in the cost of borrowing has the potential to take some of the momentum out of the market, but there is, at this stage, little indication that the Bank of England is minded to take a steer from the US Federal Reserve. Moreover, all the signals from the Bank still point to a very gradual upward trajectory for base rates when it eventually decides to move policy in this direction,’ he concluded.

The report also pointed out that in the lettings market demand also continues to outpace supply with the net balance of landlord instructions negative again in November. It added that the headline rent expectations balance remains strongly positive although in London there is a suggestion of resistance to further increases in rent.