UK residential property market held firm in August, says RICS

Activity in the UK housing market held relatively firm during August despite the distraction of the Olympic fortnight, according to the latest housing market survey published today (11 September) by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

But surveyors are not overly optimistic about the rest of the year with 13% expecting further drops in house prices. And just 12% more expect sales to rise.

In the three months to August, chartered surveyors sold on average 7.5% of the homes on their books per month. Although historically low, the proportion of sales to stock has remained relatively consistent throughout 2012.

RICS says that in spite of this, perhaps unsurprisingly, with the Olympics having taken centre stage during August, the amount of potential buyers looking to view property saw a slight dip. A net balance of nine percent more surveyors reported falls in demand, down from -4% in July.

Alongside this, the number of new instructions was effectively unchanged on the July figure. With the amount of fresh supply coming onto the market having remained relatively stable so far this year, surveyors report that sales are progressing where vendors are realistic with their asking prices.

Elsewhere, prices continued to edge lower in August, albeit at a slower pace than in previous months. A net balance of 19% more respondents reported price falls rather than rises, from -23% in July.

Regionally, London was once again the only part of the country to report a positive reading for prices, while surveyors in Northern Ireland , the West Midlands and Yorkshire and Humberside reported the weakest readings.

Looking ahead, chartered surveyors across the country predict transaction levels to pick up slightly as autumn approaches with 12% more respondents expecting sales to rise rather than fall over the coming three months. The same cannot be said for future prices however with a net balance of 13% expecting further drops.

‘Little changed in the housing market last month. Despite the Olympics taking centre stage throughout much of August, it didn’t have any real impact on the proportion of sales going through. Understandably, the amount of people out looking at property fell away slightly but, generally speaking, demand held up fairly well,’ said Ian Perry, RICS spokesperson.