RICS reports rising demand prior to coronavirus

The RICS UK Residential Market Survey found that demand, sales and instructions all rose in February – before the threat of coronavirus likely put the brakes on activity.

Some 22% more contributors saw an increase in sales compared to a fall in February, with activity rising in every region barring Scotland.

Some 20% more contributors saw an increase in enquiries than a fall in February, the third consecutive month demand rose. Meanwhile a net 15% saw an increase in instructions.

Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, said: “The usually reliable RICS survey suggests that house-price inflation, demand and new listings have been increasing for the past few months, which is good news, even though it is based largely on pre-virus responses.

“It confirms what many of our buyers and sellers are telling us – that the impact will be serious but short term. Our viewings are about 25% lower than we might have expected at this time of year but sales are not being cancelled so far and we have even seen exchanges of contract immediately post-Budget.”

Nigel Purves, chief operating officer, Wayhome said: “This uptick in activity may be welcomed by those looking to sell, but it doesn’t change the fact that house prices remain too high for many.

“With the Chancellor Budget doing little more to help aspiring homeowners get onto the ladder, people are keen to see new pathways toward homeownership.

“While any support from the government to tackle supply and demand is, of course, to be welcomed – the reality is we need to see real, genuine innovation in the market to make owning a home more achievable.”