Olympics 'distracted' house viewers

Updated: 
Estate agents windowThe number of potential home buyers looking to view properties dipped in August as the Olympics provided a distraction - although overall sales held firm, surveyors have reported.

In the three months to August, chartered surveyors sold on average 7.5% of the homes on their books per month, a figure which has remained consistent throughout 2012, said the latest Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) UK housing market survey.


With the London 2012 games taking place, a net balance of 9% more surveyors reported falls in demand, compared to 4% more in July, RICS added.

Ian Perry, RICS spokesperson, said: "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."

The housing market has struggled since the stamp duty holiday for first-time buyers was withdrawn at the end of March, and confidence was hit by the weakening economy and the ongoing eurozone debt crisis.

The firmer August report comes as housebuilders have enjoyed a rise in sales and profits in recent months, with Barratt Developments this week expected to report stronger profits and unveil a special dividend for shareholders.


But many housebuilders have mainly seen gains through focusing on building larger family homes in the south of England as they seek to reduce exposure to first-time buyers struggling to clamber on to the ladder.

Elsewhere, RICS said the number of new instructions was unchanged on the July figure, while 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. London was 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.

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