Subdued housing market set to continue

Subdued housing market set to continue

The latest monthly housing market survey has revealed that the UK housing market remained subdued in May, with any impetus being unlikely for the near future.

The report, undertaken by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), found that despite an increase in properties coming onto the market, buyer demand continued to be in decline, albeit to a lesser extent than at the start of the year.

Whether the increase in properties arriving on the market is a sign of supply pressures easing has yet to be seen.

Even though buyer demand as a whole had fallen, the actual picture was mixed throughout the UK, with six of the 12 regions that the survey covers reporting an increase during May. The areas where the outlook was more positive were London, Northern Ireland, Scotland, the South West, the West Midlands and Yorkshire and Humber.

Sales-wise, the study once again revealed a mixed picture, with a firm rise in only four regions. These were the East Midlands, Northern Ireland, Scotland and the West Midlands. Across the rest of the UK sales remained flat or negative, with respondents to the survey reporting they expected little in the way of change at the national level in the forthcoming months.

The study also reported that property prices remained unchanged throughout May, following a marginal fall in April. Once more, regional variations were significant, with prices rising in the Midlands and the north, while they declined in London and the south.

The chief economist of the RICS, Simon Rubinsohn, said: “Although agents are suggesting that a little more supply may have come onto the market in May, some of it from the buy to let sector, inventory levels still remain near historic lows.

“Against this backdrop, it is likely that the headline picture regarding activity in the housing market will remain subdued for some months to come. This is reflected in the feedback to the latest survey which shows sales expectations only marginally positive on a one year view.”