General Election uncertainty hitting housing market, surveyors say

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The housing market is being hit by a lack of choice and uncertainty caused by the General Election, a study shows.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said momentum was continued to "ebb", with no sign of a change in the near future.

A survey of over 600 estate agency branches found the average number of properties was "hovering" close to record lows.

Enquiries from new buyers have not grown much since last November, showing "stagnant" demand, said RICS.

Sales were said to be "flat", with no change expected in the next three months.

Simon Rubinsohn, chief economist of RICS, said: "Although the picture clearly does vary across the country, the bulk of the feedback we are receiving points to a fairly flat summer for both activity and prices.

"Lack of stock on the market remains a key challenge for the sector with recent and forthcoming tax changes having a material impact on transaction levels, particularly at higher price points. Uncertainty relating to the forthcoming general election is also highlighted by some respondents as a reason for inertia.

"It is noticeable in the April report that the amount of new rental instructions coming through to agents is continuing to edge lower which is not altogether surprising given the changing landscape for buy to let investors.

"One consequence of this is that rents are expected to continue rising not just in the near term but also further out and at a faster pace than house prices."