House sales slip back

There was no spring bounce in the housing market last month according to the latest RICS UK Housing Market survey.

Newly agreed sales in May slipped back from the previous month’s reading, with only 5% more surveyors reporting sales rising rather than falling.

The average number of completed sales per surveyor also fell by 3.4% in the three months to May, to just 14.7 – the lowest level since January. Meanwhile, the average number of properties per surveyor increased by 8.1% over the month to 71.3 (from 66), as more properties came to market and stayed on estate agents’ books for longer.

The key sales to stock ratio – the balance between demand and supply – fell to 20.6%, well below the long run average of 33.5%.

Also, the report found that there was little change in the number of people wishing to view properties, although new instructions continued to rise, but the pace of increase slowed slightly during May (to +15%).

Turning to house prices, 28% more surveyors reported price falls rather than rises – the lowest reading since the beginning of the year. However, of those respondents seeing falling prices, the vast proportion – 82% – reported declines of between 0% and 2%.

Looking ahead, price expectations, which are already negative, fell more sharply with 27% more respondents expecting prices to fall rather than rise over the next three months.

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Group Managing Editor across the BMJ portfolio.

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