Scottish housing market hit by Brexit slump

Scotland’s housing market is suffering a slump as Brexit uncertainty takes its toll on buyers, surveyors have warned.

Inquiries from new buyers fell across Scotland in March
Inquiries from new buyers fell across Scotland in March

Inquiries from new buyers in Scotland fell last month with a growing number of surveyors experiencing a fall in demand, according to a survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics).

The UK’s planned withdrawal from the EU has been blamed for the stagnation.

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Simon Rubinsohn, Rics chief economist, said: “Brexit remains a major drag on activity in the market with anecdotal evidence pointing to potential buyers being reluctant to commit in the face of the heightened sense of uncertainty.

“Whether any deal provides the shift in mood music envisaged by many respondents to the survey remains to be seen but as things stand, there is little encouragement to be drawn from key Rics-lead indicators.

“We expect transactions to decline on this basis.

“Arguably more significant still are the signs that developers are continuing to adopt a more cautious stance with the trend in new residential starts now flat-lining.

“Against this backdrop, there is little possibility of delivering the uplift in supply necessary to address the ongoing housing crisis.”

The Rics UK Residential Market Survey shows near-term sales expectations for Scotland are also negative.

A net balance of 11 per cent more chartered surveyors expect a decline in sales over the next three months.

“The market has picked up from a slow start to the year, but confidence is not high amongst buyers and sellers due to uncertainty in the economy,” said Ian Morton of Bradburne & Co.

But house prices in Scotland remain strong as the decline in new property going up for sale continues in line with recent surveys.

Demand from potential buyers has consistently outpaced new instructions across Scotland for several years now.

A fifth of respondents to the Rics survey reported a rise in house prices across Scotland.

Scotland and Northern Ireland are the only parts of the UK to have seen sustained price growth on a consistent basis, over the past two months. Despite this, the outlook is slightly less positive, with price expectations for the Scottish market flat over the next three months.