House sales on hold as political uncertainty continues, say surveyors

House sales have been put on hold amid ongoing political and economic uncertainty, according to surveyors.

Property transactions remained subdued in October, the report from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) said.

Sales dipped across “virtually all” parts of the UK apart from Northern Ireland, where there was a marginal increase, its report showed.

But expectations for sales in the coming months were more upbeat, potentially indicating a more positive change.

Expectations for sales levels in 12 months’ time were the strongest the survey has recorded in nine months.

Across the UK, inquiries from new buyers fell for the second month in a row, with an overall net balance of 16% of surveyors saying interest had fallen rather than increased.

As buyer interest waned, the flow of fresh properties coming on the market also fell back for the fourth month in a row.

House prices across the UK remained broadly unchanged, but are expected by surveyors to increase over the next 12 months.

Surveyors in Northern Ireland, Wales, Scotland and the north west of England show the strongest expectations for house price growth over the coming year, Rics said.

Meanwhile, tenant demand in the rental sector picked up in October – while the supply of new rental properties decreased.

With the supply of rental homes restricted, surveyors in every UK region or nation predicted rents will increase over the coming three months.

Rics chief economist Simon Rubinsohn said: “The latest survey feedback continues to suggest that both buyer and seller activity remains in a holding pattern, hampered by political and economic uncertainty.

“Given the upcoming General Election next month, it appears unlikely that these trends will pick up to any meaningful extent over the remainder of this year.

“The picture remains very different on the lettings side however, with tenant demand gathering momentum over recent months.

“This is running against an increasingly tight supply backdrop for rental properties and seems set to squeeze the pace of rental growth higher going forward.”

Tamara Hooper, policy manager at Rics, said less political “tinkering” in the private rental sector would help to encourage more landlords back into the market – “as well as ensure that tenants, including those who are most vulnerable, are not at a disadvantage in being able to find a suitable and affordable home to rent”.

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