Surveyors say housing market taking a ‘breather’, but lack of stock keeps prices rising

Enquiries by new home buyers declined for the second month in a row in August, according to the latest monthly figures from the RICS.

The surveyors’ body’s monthly survey found that falling demand was even more widespread in August than in Julyin the immediate aftermath of the government withdrawing its stamp duty relief, with the index for new buyer enquiries falling to -14 from -9.

However, with the survey also reporting that fewer homes were coming on the to the market, the survey found the vast majority of surveyors reporting continued price rises, supporting similar findings from mortgage lenders in recent days.

The RICS’s survey said a net balance of +73% of surveyors recorded price rises in the month, only just under recent record highs, with nearly as many - +66% - expecting continued price rises over the next year.

One of the estate agents surveyed, Christopher Bailey, at Knight Frank in Exeter, said: “This August has been a more normal August compared to last year with quieter activity levels as the country enjoys some time off. Stock remains low and demand remains strong throughout the West Country.”

Tarrant Parsons, an economist at the RICS, said the survey showed market activity “taking a breather” following the flurry of sales seen ahead of the withdrawal of the Stamp Duty holiday on properties between £250,000 and £500,000 at the end of June.

“Nevertheless, given the real shortfall in new listings becoming available of late, there remains strong competition amongst buyers and this is maintaining a significant degree of upward pressure on house prices. What’s more, prices are expected to continue to climb higher over the year to come, albeit the pace of increase is likely to subside somewhat in the months ahead.”