Economic uncertainty keeps housing market weighed down during August

Julian Harris
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THE UNSTABLE economic outlook kept the UK’s housing market subdued last month, a survey published this morning suggests.

The average number of house sales per surveyor fell to 14 in August, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has found – “taking transactions back to June 2009 levels”.

Nearly eight in 10 surveyors reported “general economic uncertainty” as a reason for the sluggish market conditions.

Meanwhile seven in 10 said that a lack of mortgage finance was holding back new sales, particularly for aspiring first time buyers.

The number of mortgage loans to first time buyers slipped two per cent between June and July, according to a separate survey released yesterday.

Only 18,200 mortgages were granted to people taking their first step onto the property ladder, the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) revealed, down seven per cent on the same time last year.

Overall loans for house purchase edged up to 48,800 in July yet remained 12 per cent below the same time last year, the CML’s data showed. The value of house purchase loans, £7.3bn, was up six per cent on June, but still 13 per below its level in July 2010.

According to the RICS data, 23 per cent more surveyors saying that prices fell rather than rose in August.