Surveyors have little confidence in the housing market over the next three months, according to the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Its housing market survey for England and Wales for the three months to March 2003 shows 25% more surveyors reported falling prices than rising, on a seasonally adjusted basis, compared to 9% in February. Price rises are only apparent in the North, Yorkshire and Humberside and Wales.
Ian Perry, national housing spokesman for RICS, said: ‘What we are seeing is the market slowing down, more so in London than elsewhere, but we expect that situation to ripple out across the country over the rest of this year.’
RICS surveyors reported a decline in newly agreed sales in March, and completed sales fell in the first three months of 2003 to their lowest level for two years. To add to the gloom stocks of unsold properties rose in March to the highest level since January 2002.
Perry pointed out that these facts, although not encouraging, may look overly gloomy when compared to the highs of recent years. He said: ‘We are actually returning to a more normal market situation, after being in a boom over the last two years.’
Property website Rightmove.co.uk said in its report for April that house prices had risen by 1.3% over the month, and represented a 4.7% increase since the start of the year. Rightmove said this would correlate to a rise of around 10% by the end of the year.
Alex Bannister, group economist at Nationwide, said the outlook was not as black as many people were painting. He said: ‘There has been much speculation about the housing market slowdown in recent months, but our index suggests that house price growth remains buoyant although the trend over the last few months has moderated. Prices rose by just under 4% in the first quarter compared with increases of around 6.5% in each of the three previous quarters.’