Housing market picture increasingly mixed in August, surveyors say

There were marked differences in housing market trends across the UK in August, surveyors have reported.

While the picture in London, parts of the wider South East of England and, to some extent, East Anglia is downbeat, Scotland and Northern Ireland in particular are showing a healthy market, with a positive outlook for sales activity, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Alongside this, house prices continue to increase firmly across the North West, the Midlands and Yorkshire and Humberside, the report said.

However, the offsetting impact of London and the South East means that at a national level house prices signalled no change in August.

Surveyors’ near-term expectations for house sales suggest regional differences will persist, with the market remaining stronger away from the South of England.

While the numbers of unsold homes on estate agents’ books remain close to historic lows, interest from new buyers nationally remains flat, with a slightly more cautious approach from property purchasers, according to RICS.

Despite this, buyer appetite is still reportedly strong in Northern Ireland and Yorkshire and Humberside.

RICS chief economist Simon Rubinsohn said: “It is clearly very difficult to talk about the housing market at the moment without being acutely aware of the marked differences in trends across the UK.”

Mr Rubinsohn said the housing market remains quite firm in many parts of the country.

He added: “While a combination of a lack of stock and some level of uncertainty, both relating to the interest rate outlook and Brexit, has had an impact on activity, the overall picture in these areas is still encouraging.

“The story in London and the South East is, as has been widely recognised, rather more challenging but it is important that this is not seen as being indicative of the wider market.”

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