House sales and buyer enquiries flat lined in March, while the number of properties coming onto the market fell for the second consecutive month, pushing prices rapidly upwards, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
In most parts of the country, the supply versus demand imbalance led to 21 per cent more surveyors reporting a rise in house prices in March (up from 15 per cent in February).
Some 15 per cent more surveyors are expecting prices to increase over the next three months compared with 10 per cent in February.
Nationally, Northern Ireland continues to outperform the rest of the UK with the strongest house price growth in March and the highest price expectations over the next three months. However, across much of the rest of the UK, particularly in Wales and Scotland, price gains over the next three months are expected to be much more moderate.
In London, a lack of prospective buyers saw enquiries and the number of agreed sales both fall for the 11th consecutive month and 24 per cent more surveyors reported a decline in the number of new properties coming onto the market for sale.
However, compared to the start of the year when 42 per cent more surveyors reported a decrease in prices, just 13 per cent more surveyors saw prices fall in March and across the whole of the UK, the average surveyor sold 19.5 properties – reflecting activity since autumn - although it remains some way down on where it was this time last year.
Simon Rubinsohn, chief economist at RICS, says the boost that was given to the housing market by the Help to Buy scheme has begun to dissipate and activity levels have slipped back.
“Even more worrying are the tentative signs that price momentum could be set to pick-up once again as the supply of stock to the market continues to fall. Anecdotal evidence does suggest that election uncertainty may be having some impact on the market, but underlying the trends visible in the latest survey is a very real housing crisis which will urgently need to be addressed by the next government.”
He claims it is significant that price expectations nationally are accelerating.