House sales drop back to 2009 levels

The number of property sales per surveyor over the three months to August dipped slightly to an average of 14, taking transactions back to 2009 levels, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

In its latest UK Housing Market survey, respondents were asked for the reasons why they felt sales levels continue to be subdued.

Some 79 per cent of surveyors cited the general economic uncertainty, while 70 per cent felt a lack of mortgage finance was impacting negatively on transactions.

Rics claimed this was borne out in the number of first-time buyers who are still struggling to get a foot on the property ladder.

Around 40 per cent of respondents added that fears over house price falls were affecting transaction levels, as many buyers and sellers stay away from the market while they wait for things to improve.

New buyer enquiries, which signal buyer demand, fell back in August as 3 per cent more chartered surveyors reported a decrease rather than an increase.

The sluggish market contributed to the downbeat pricing picture in August, with 23 per cent more surveyors reporting prices fell rather than rose.

Price expectations also fell, as a net balance of 23 per cent anticipated prices to decline rather than rise over the next three months. However, the survey showed that surveyors were hopeful of a modest pick up in activity.

Alan Collett, housing spokesperson at Rics, said: “For the time being, our indicators suggest that demand for homes remain broadly steady, albeit at relatively low levels, despite the renewed bout of economic gloom.

“However, the risk is that the worsening economic picture will gradually begin to have a more material impact on sentiment and discourage potential house purchasers even where mortgage finance is available.”