New inquiries rise but have yet to translate into more sales, survey finds

Surveyors reported a drop in sales in October, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has said.

The RICS UK Residential Survey - a monthly sentiment tracker - revealed a net balance of -9% surveyors reporting a reduction in agreed sales in October compared to the previous month. The ‘net balance’ refers to the percentage of respondents reporting more sales minus the percentage reporting a drop.

It is the fourth consecutive month surveyors have reported a negative reading for agreed sales. However, the figure is the least negative during the past four months and is up from the -13% recorded in September.

The drop in sales comes despite rising buyer inquiries, with the net balance of surveyors reporting more inquiries at +10% for the month, the first outright rise in buyer demand since June.

The figures appear to show supply failing to keep up with demand, agents currently only have 37 properties on their books on average, down from 42 in March, while most contributors have reported a fall in the number of new properties being listed for sale, with the figure reading -20%.

The survey also showed that house price growth remained strong, with 70% of respondents seeing increasing prices, in line with that seen over the past three months.

RICS said the lack of stock coming to the market “remains widely referenced as a factor holding back activity”. Surveyors continued to report a drop in new instructions, with a net balance of -20%, compared to -33% last month. The average stock levels on estate agents’ books fell from close to 42 in March to 37 last month.