Buyer demand hits three year high
Published: 13 November, 2012
UK: Buyer demand rose at its fastest rate in almost three years during October, with purchasers across the UK looking to test the pre-Christmas market, says the latest RICS housing market survey (13 November 2012).
Until last month, interest from would-be buyers had remained relatively subdued since December 2009. However, during October chartered surveyors reported a considerable rebound in new buyer enquiries with a net balance of 18 percent more respondents reporting rises (from +5 percent). It appears that the growing optimism shown in recent months may slowly be translating into an upturn in activity.
The amount of homes coming onto the UK market also saw an improvement, as supply rose at its highest rate since April 2011. Last month, twelve percent more respondents reported rises rather than falls in vendors placing their properties on the market (up from +5 percent).
Prices across the UK continued to stabilise with a net balance of seven percent more surveyors reporting drops. While still in negative territory, falls have now continued to slow for three consecutive months and this represents the least negative reading in over two years.
Despite the overall market picture seeing a gentle improvement across the country, this did not necessarily translate into a significant boost in sales. In the three months to October, UK surveyors sold on average 15.2 homes (from 14.9). While representing a small upturn on the previous month’s reading, transactions still remain historically low across most parts of the country.
Regionally, all areas of the UK saw improvements in levels of demand with the exception of Northern Ireland and Scotland. Significantly, the North East and the West Midlands saw the most notable rises, with surveyors in those regions reporting net balance readings of +56 and +35 percent respectively.
Looking ahead, chartered surveyors are hopeful that the current upturn in interest should translate into a greater number of sales, as a net balance of 25 percent more respondents predicted rises in transactions over the coming three months.
Ian Perry, RICS housing spokesperson, commented: “The number of potential buyers going out and viewing property saw a welcome boost last month. It seems that with Christmas around the corner, those who are in a position to buy decided to get out there and see what is available. That being said, overall activity is still very low in most parts of the country and what the market desperately needs is for this to translate into actual sales.
“Initiatives like the NewBuy scheme are all well and good but they need time to bed in and take effect, and access to affordable mortgage finance is still very difficult for many first time buyers. With the Autumn Statement around the corner, we would like to see the government continue to focus on delivering new homes and encouraging the banks to lend at affordable levels.”