The amount of homes sold in the UK reached a three-year high during March as increased confidence in the market translated into sales, the latest RICS housing market survey has indicated today (9 April).
In March, chartered surveyors reported selling an average of 17.4 homes over the previous three months, the highest number since March 2010. Confidence has been slowly returning to the UK housing market since the end of 2012 and transactions have also risen for three consecutive months.
This increasing stability was mirrored by prices as respondents across the country reported practically no movement during March. A net balance of just 1% more surveyors reported price falls (from -7%), meaning house prices across the UK have now been relatively stable for six months.
Moving on to demand, an increasing number of prospective buyers viewed property during March. A net balance of 11% more surveyors reported rises in new buyer enquiries, the highest reading since October. It seems that government’s recent efforts to encourage banks to offer more affordable mortgages may now be starting to bear fruit and assist purchasers.
Meanwhile, the amount of homes coming onto the market was little changed last month. Two percent more surveyors reported rises rather than falls in new instructions, meaning that the shortfall of fresh stock coming to the market remains a key issue for buyers.
At a regional level the survey suggests that, on average, surveyors in the West Midlands have seen the biggest increase in homes sold since the start of the year, followed by those working in the London area. By way of contrast, the sales trend appears flattest in East Anglia and the East Midlands.
Looking ahead, respondents are optimistic that the recent increase in transactions is set to continue. A net balance of 19% more surveyors expect sales to rise further over the coming three months. Moreover, price expectations indicators for both the next three and 12 months have been in positive territory for the last four months.
Peter Bolton King, RICS global residential director, said: “A buoyant, healthy property market is central to economic recovery and, while these are still very much early signs, it is encouraging that sales are beginning to pick up. The increase in potential buyers getting out there and viewing property is particularly encouraging. Thanks to initiatives such as Funding for Lending, mortgages are becoming more accessible to buyers, which is gently easing the pressure on the market and freeing up stagnant chains.”