The number of people looking for a new home fell in November, with the net balance of -21% down from -15% in October, according to the latest report from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics).
The number of new properties being listed for sale fell for the fifth consecutive report, and the net balance of -24% was the fastest pace of decline in supply noted in twenty-eight months.
The November report also showed that for the next three months the sales predictions fell from -6% to -23%.
The number of new appraisals by property valuers was also down in comparison to a year earlier.
With little choice for new buyers and fewer people interested in moving, the number of agreed sales also fell in November. The UK headline net balance moved to -15% from -10% and this sentiment is reflected in almost all areas of the country.
The impact of softer demand is also visible in the key price balance, which slipped from -10% to -11% in November.
By region, the picture remains varied, with house prices falling most notably in London, South East and East Anglia, while the South West, East Midlands and North East were broadly flat.
However, rises were seen in Northern Ireland, Scotland, West Midlands, Wales, Yorkshire & Humber and the North West.
In the lettings market, demand from prospective tenants held steady.
However, the number of new instructions continued to fall, signalling a continued decline in the supply of fresh rental stock. As a result, rents are expected to rise modestly over both three- and twelve-month horizons.
The view from Rics
Simon Rubinsohn, Rics chief economist, said the ongoing uncertainties surrounding how the Brexit process played out was taking its toll on the housing market.
He added: “Caution is visible among both buyers and vendors and where deals are being done, they are taking longer to get over the line. Significantly the forward-looking indicators reflect the suspicion that the political machinations are unlikely to be resolved anytime soon.
“The bigger risk is that this now spills over into development plans making it even harder to secure the uplift in the building pipeline to address the housing crisis.”
Hew Edgar, RICS head of policy, added that the outcome was not surprising.
He said: “Prior to the referendum, our research indicated that Brexit would only impact the higher end of the residential market, as the lower and middle market areas are domestically driven.
“Now, however, it appears that those looking to buy and sell homes across the price spectrum, as well as those looking to invest in the UK’s residential sector, are putting off decisions until there is more certainty.
“Parliamentarians need to work together to make sure politics, the future deal and our relationship with the EU works for the built environment.”
Buyers to wait until the new year
Steve Seal, sales and marketing director of Bluestone Mortgages, said the figures showed that strains within the market were not exclusive to London and the south as some may assume.
He added: “With the current environment, there is a lot of uncertainty and many buyers are choosing to wait until the new year before making the biggest financial decision of their lives.
“As political uncertainty looms, borrowers need to be reassured that affordable lending can still be accessed.”