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Housing market: London and south east are weakest regions - RICS

The housing market remains mixed across different parts of the UK but London and the south east remain the weakest areas according to the latest snapshot from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

In its latest survey some six per cent more respondents across the UK reported prices rising rather than falling. 

However, in central London the reading is stuck firmly in negative territory, with 56 per cent more respondents seeing a fall in prices, posting the weakest result since 2008. 

While sentiment also remains modestly negative in the south east, the north and East Anglia, elsewhere, the latest figures point to solid price growth in many parts, including Northern Ireland, the north west, Scotland, and the south west.

Looking forward to the next 12 months, prime central London remains the only area in which prices expectations are negative.

August saw little change at the national level to buyer enquiries with the broadly flat trend extending into its ninth straight month.  

Agreed sales also showed little change with four per cent more respondents seeing a fall rather than rise.  As such, nationally, sales have not seen any growth since November 2016.

Supply also continues to be an issue with one per cent more surveyors seeing a fall in new sales instructions at the national level. Although this has now turned less negative three months in a row, following such a sustained period of deteriorating sales instructions average stock levels on agents’ books are still near an all-time low.

Conversely, new instructions have increased in prime central London during four of the last six months, with a relatively large pick-up cited in both July and August. In keeping with this, the average number of properties on agents’ books in those parts of the capital has risen. By way of contrast, virtually all other regions have seen stock levels decline over the same period.

“The latest results continue to suggest that the greatest pressure on both prices and activity continues to be felt in prime central London market. Although there are some signs that the wider south east is also losing some momentum, anecdotal evidence suggests the impact is very location specific. Meanwhile the numbers for most other parts of the country point to a rather more resilient marketplace” notes Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist.

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