Supply of homes coming to market ‘weakest in three years’

The wider economy could also be hit by house moves being put on hold, including spending on furniture and appliances, surveyors warn.

An aerial view of rows of houses
An aerial view of rows of houses

The flow of homes coming on to the market is at its weakest level in three years as “endless wrangling about Brexit” continues, according to surveyors.

An overall net balance of 37% of surveyors reported the supply of homes being put up for sale decreasing rather than increasing in September – the weakest reading since June 2016 – the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) said.

Average stock levels on estate agents’ books therefore remain near record lows, its UK housing market survey found.

The number of new inquiries from buyers and agreed sales is also falling back.

Rics said that anecdotal commentary from property professionals points to the cause of the subdued picture being heightened economic and political uncertainty.

The market seems unlikely to gain impetus over the next three months, although sentiment for a year ahead is a little more resilient, it said.

House prices across the UK remain flat generally, but, while the picture in London and the South East is weaker, by contrast there are “solid” price gains in Northern Ireland, Scotland and the North West of England, Rics said.

Simon Rubinsohn, Rics chief economist, said: “There are good reasons for thinking the latest dip in both buyer inquiries and vendor instructions is a response to the endless wrangling about Brexit, as the October 31 deadline approaches.

“Unless there is a speedy resolution to the ongoing impasse, it does seem inevitable that the stand-off between purchasers and sellers will deepen, making it harder to complete transactions.

“This will not only be a direct hit on the housing market itself but could have ramifications for the wider economy as the normal spend on furniture, fittings and appliances that typically accompanies a house move is also put on hold.”

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