General election could put already slowing housing market on pause

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The property market could be put on pause this summer as potential home buyers sit it out to await the outcome of the general election, it has been suggested.

There have already been signs of the housing market slowing down in recent months amid signs of consumer caution over the uncertain economy and Brexit. Stamp duty changes have also led to weakened demand for new properties from buy-to-let investors, according to property market reports.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) recently reported that the number of properties sitting on estate agents' books has fallen to a record low amid a lack of impetus in the housing market.

There were 43 unsold properties per branch on average in March - the lowest figure since it started collecting the data.

Commenting on the prospect of a general election on June 8, Yorkshire Building Society economist Andrew McPhillips said: "The housing market is going through a sluggish period at present and a general election adds to the chances of it lasting longer.

"Home buyers who are well on the way to making a purchase have traditionally not been put off by such surprise macro-events but those only thinking about it may decide to pause."

Jeremy Leaf, a north London estate agent and a former residential chairman of Rics, said: "The period of indecision starts from now until the election and thankfully it is relatively short. Inevitably, a lot of decision-making will be put on hold, particularly as the polls fluctuate, and that includes the decision to buy and sell property."

But he said a decisive election result, whatever the outcome, could result in a surge in housing market activity afterwards.