The amount of homes sold in the UK over the past three months reached its highest level since January 2010 as buyers across the country began to return to the market, says the latest RICS residential market survey (11 June 2013).
Chartered surveyors in the UK sold on average 17.9 properties during the three months to May. While low compared to the market peak of six years ago, it still represents the highest reading since January 2010. Furthermore, sales are expected to continue their rise over the next three months with a net balance of 35% more respondents predicting transaction levels will grow (from +26%).
A key driver behind this jump in activity is the recent upturn in buyers testing the market. Interest from would-be buyers has now risen for four consecutive months and, during May, 30% more chartered surveyors reported rises rather than falls in new buyer enquiries. This represents the highest reading since October 2009 and is a sign that market confidence is gradually being restored.
Meanwhile, prices up-edged last month with 5% more chartered surveyors reporting increases rather than decreases. Until recent months, price stability has been confined largely to the south east of England and London, whereas now this is beginning to extend to other areas of the UK.
With the sales market maintaining its slow recovery, chartered surveyors also expect house prices to rise over the coming three months, with a net balance of 20% more respondents predicting growth.
Moving on to the rental market, tenant demand continued to rise during May, although the rate of growth has begun to slow in the last few months. Even so, respondents to the survey predict further rises in rents over the coming three months.
Peter Bolton King, RICS global residential director, commented: "May was an interesting month for the housing market. More people decided to get out there and view properties and more transactions went through than in quite some time. Most encouragingly of all, though, is that stability is not confined purely to London and the South East, as has been the case, but is now starting to extend to areas right across the country. There is still a very long way to go until we see a full-scale recovery but green shoots are beginning to sprout."