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RICS details market downturn

Halifax House Price Index

Enquiries, sales volumes and instructions all fell off a cliff in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, the RICS UK Residential Survey found.

Government measures introduced to combat the spread of the virus require estate agents to close their offices, as RICS branded activity ‘frozen’.

A net balance of -74% of surveyors across the UK reported a fall in enquiries, while a net -69% saw a fall in sales volumes.

Near term sales expectations were at a net -92%, the lowest figure since the series was started in 1998.

When it comes to house prices near term expectations have fallen to a net -82%.

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, said: “The RICS survey has proved yet again to be a reliable indicator of housing market trends – and unfortunately so, on this occasion.

“It confirms what we are seeing on the ground – demand to buy has been falling off a cliff, not least because physical viewings and surveys cannot be arranged despite the growth in virtual tours.

“Nevertheless, interest in property remains strong, evidenced by active portal browsing and enquiries whereas nearly all of our sales which were at an advanced stage prior to lockdown proceeded to completion with several more in the pipeline.

“Interest in lettings has been particularly healthy too leading us to believe the bounceback will be sustainable provided restrictions are eased fairly soon and damage to the economy is relatively limited.”