The flow of homes coming on to the market across Britain is at its weakest level in three years as “endless wrangling about Brexit” continues, according to a new report from surveyors.
But the market is holding up well in Scotland, with “solid” price gains, the report said.
An overall net balance of 37 per cent 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.” A report last month by Yorkshire Building Society found Scotland was the best performing region in the country in the three years following the Brexit referendum, with sales in London suffering a collapse.
The building society compared house sales numbers in the 12 months leading up to the vote to leave the EU in June 2016 with the 12 months leading up to May this year.
Comparing these two periods, it found sales in Scotland were up four per cent, with Wales recording the second strongest performance with a rise of two per cent.
Six out of the 10 best performing local areas were in Scotland.
London was the worst performing region, with a 28 per cent drop.