There were signs the fragile UK housing market started to stabilise in November after several months of increasing gloom, according to the latest monthly survey of chartered surveyors, but little sense a recovery is imminent.
The balance of surveyors reporting that prices had risen compared to those who said they were down over the three months to November edged down to zero from a reading of +1 in October — a reading that the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors said was “broadly consistent with no change in national house prices over the period”.
Expectations for price rises in the next three months were “now more or less flat” nationally, although the overall figure continued to conceal a significant divide between London and the south east — where caution reigns — and regions such as the North West, Scotland and Wales, which were more optimistic about near-term price rises. Surveyors were more upbeat about the prospect for price rises over the year ahead — again, with the exception of the capital, which remains resolutely glum.
RICS said in the report:
The November 2017 RICS UK Residential Market Survey results are again indicative of subdued momentum in the housing market. That said, after deteriorating in recent months, activity appears to be stabilising to some extent. At the same time the near term outlook for prices and sales is now broadly flat, with contributors appearing unconvinced that the market will gain impetus in the coming months. Feedback from respondents suggests that housing market activity continues to be stifled by a persistent shortage of new instructions along with economic uncertainty.
Prices should be underpinned by the smaller number of buyers chasing after an even scarcer number of homes. Surveyors also were relatively optimistic that the cut in stamp duty for first-time buyers announced by the Chancellor in the Budget will help buyer numbers to recover over the coming months. Nonetheless, the recent rise in mortgage rates….has restricted the size of loans that households are able to obtain…. As a result, we continue to expect house prices merely to flatline over the next year.