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RICS brands market activity ‘stagnant’ ahead of election

Uncertainty around the General Election and Brexit stifled housing market activity in November, the RICS UK Residential Market Survey said.

Some 9% more surveyors saw a decline in new buyer enquiries than an increase.

The number of newly agreed sales also fell by a net 8%, though this made better reading than falls of 18% and 27% in the previous months.

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, said: “The RICS ‘take’ on the housing market is respected more than most, not least because of its excellent track record over many years of identifying trends.

“Its latest report is no exception, confirming what we are seeing ‘on the ground’ – new buyer enquiries and listings lower than last month but not falling as quickly as previously, despite significant political and seasonal distractions.

“What we have also noticed, which is unlikely to be picked up by national surveys for a while, is the quiet determination of increasing numbers of realistic buyers and sellers to take advantage of improved affordability and a little more confidence in market prospects for 2020.”

Adrian Moloney, sales director at OneSavings Bank, said: “This continued downward trend will do little to quash buyer’s concerns. With the outcome of the general election in sight, buyers and sellers will be waiting for clarity on the future direction of the market.

“Housing will be a priority for whichever political party comes into power. A commitment to developing housing stock, particularly affordable housing, will boost activity in the market and allow a greater number of buyers to take the next step and capitalise on record low mortgage rates.”