UK housing market pauses as buyer demand slows
Wed 13 Aug 2014
Demand for new homes in the UK fell slightly in July, the first monthly decline since January 2013, according to the latest residential market survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
At the same time the supply of new properties coming onto the market increased for the second consecutive month and as a result of the rebalancing in demand and supply, house price growth across the UK appears to be moderating.
The RICS report suggests that the housing market has paused, with a net balance of 49% more respondents reporting an increase in prices in July, down from 52% in June and 56% in May. In London, both sales and new buyer demand fell more sharply than elsewhere, with enquiries falling at their fastest rate since April 2008 and a net balance of 10% more respondents reporting an increase in prices, down from 30% in June.
The average number of sales per chartered surveyor, however, increased to 24.6, up from 21.1 at the start of the year, and sales expectations remain positive across the country, albeit a little less so than previously. While there is a little more member caution reflected in the comments, prices are still projected to rise nationally over the next year and expected to increase by 2.6% on a 12 month view compared with around 4% at the start of the year. Surveyors in Scotland appear most optimistic, anticipating a price gain of 3.3%.
Loan to Value ratios on mortgages were little changed during the month but the results, nevertheless, show that lenders are now a little more circumspect in providing finance to the more expensive parts of the market. The average LTV mortgage for a first time buyer in the capital remained below 78% for the second successive month, which compares with an average close to 81% during the early part of the year.
A range of policy initiatives adopted by the Bank of England in recent months alongside heightened expectations surrounding a turn in the interest rate cycle has clearly had an impact on sentiment in the market, said Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist.
The shift in the mood music amongst potential buyers in the London market has been particularly pronounced but that is in a sense consistent with the move to a more sustainable market in the capital, he explained. Elsewhere around the country, the market in general is showing a greater degree of resilience, but that largely reflects the fact that in some areas the recovery has only recently taken hold and affordability is rather less stretched. Significantly, members now expect price gains over the next year to be faster outside of the capital, than in it, he added.
Peter Rollings, chief executive officer of Marsh & Parsons, said the data shows that the market has settled into a more sustainable rhythm. 'The housing market hit the ground running at an unbelievable pace at the start of this year, but it couldnt maintain this speed long term and as we move into the second half of 2014,' he explained. He pointed out that the process of buying and selling property in London is noticeably less fraught and off putting than it was a couple of months ago.
'This month, we recorded 12 registered buyers for every available property in
the city, half the level witnessed in January, but still representing a healthy level of demand. Currently, the key component stabilising the London market is an increasing supply of property, which has surged 52% since the beginning of the year,' he said.
'This natural return to more normal trading conditions, where buyers can enjoy greater availability and sellers are inspired to sell now that they have more choice for their onward purchase, is a step in the right direction and will ensure long-term energy and activity in the market,' he added.