House sales at lowest level for 20 years

There were fewer housing transaction in October than at any time in the past 20 years and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors are blaming the lack of available mortgage finance.

House sales at lowest level for 20 years

In the latest RICS UK housing market survey transactions were shown to have fallen to an average of 10.9 per agency, down from 11.5 at the end of September and the lowest figure since the survey began in 1978.

London, with around six sales per agency, was the area faring the worst, while the North East, with an average of 16 transactions, was doing rather better.

The RCIS also report that the sales to stock ratio has fallen to 13.5%, the lowest since 1992; they predict further price falls as a result.

However, in September only 4% of chartered surveyors expected an upturn in sales over the next three months compared to 20% in October.

According to RICS spokesman, Ian Perry, the rise in optimism is largely due to an increasing trend of vendors dropping asking prices coupled with support to the market in the form of interest rate cuts.

Perry said: ‘Last week’s interest rate cut should certainly help to support the market now that lenders have agreed to pass on the reduction to borrowers. Even so, the general lack of mortgage finance remains a major blockage in the housing market for a large majority of would-be buyers.

“Fortunately, many vendors have finally started to accept current market conditions and are dropping their asking prices to achieve a sale. Sales should increase in the coming months as more and more sellers understand that greater realism is the only way to make that long desired move.”

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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