Sales fall again in depressed housing market

Tim Wallace
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HOUSE prices fell everywhere except London last month, according to an industry survey out today, while the number of sales remains very low.

A net balance of 16 per cent of surveyors reported prices falling in May, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), a slowdown from 19 per cent in April.

The decline is not evenly paced across the country – a net balance of 10 per cent recorded falls in the south east, while a balance of 47 per cent saw declines in the West Midlands.

London was the only area with rising prices – a net balance of 47 per cent saw increases in the month.

And surveyors expect prices to keep falling across the wider UK area. A net balance of 24 per cent forecast a drop in the next three months, and eight per cent predict a decline over the next 12 months.

Last month sales were 40 per cent below the level seen five years ago, before the financial crisis.

The average number of sales per branch fell 2.6 per cent in the three months to May, with the average surveyor selling 15.6 properties – well below the 25.4 in May 2007.

“Ongoing economic instability in the UK and overseas has continued to undermine consumer confidence, and the reluctance of many banks to offer affordable mortgage products has created something of a stagnant market,” said RICS’ Peter Bolton King.

“In spite of this, a gradual stability is returning to the market and surveyors expect transaction levels to increase over the coming months, even if prices continue to dip across most parts of the country.”