New buyer enquiries were reported to be flat for the third successive month, while new instructions fell noticeably – 13% more respondents saw a fall in fresh listings rather than a rise across the month.
As a result, the stock on estate agents books has now dipped to a new record low. On average, branches now have just 43 unsold properties.
In the lettings market, tenant demand is on the up – 11% more respondents saw a rise rather than a fall, though RICS pointed out that demand growth remains more modest than in March last year. What’s more, new landlord instructions were in negative territory for the sixth straight month, while respondents predicted further growth in rents in almost all areas over the next 12 months, other than in the capital.
Simon Rubinsohn, chief economist at RICS, said: “The latest results for the RICS survey show little change in the underlying picture surrounding both sales and markets. High end sale properties in Central London remain under pressure, while the wider residential market continues to be underpinned by a lack of stock. This includes rents, with rents away from the capital generally moving higher as demand outstrips supply.
“For the time being it is hard to see any major impetus for change in the market, something also being reflected in the flat trend in transaction levels.”
Brian Murphy, head of lending for Mortgage Advice Bureau, said that the paucity of stock is being matched by the level of buyer appetite in many areas of the UK, leaving the market in a “steady” state.
He added: “The ‘take out’ of the RICS survey today is perhaps that the market has found a level that, unless consumer sentiment changes radically, could form the basis of a ‘flat’ market over the coming months. This in itself is perhaps not a negative situation, as a calm and steady picture overall would benefit many, particularly given current political and economic factors.”