Housing market ‘at three-year high’, says RICS

rics_logo-300x150Activity in the UK housing market has hit a three-year high, surveyors report, supporting hopes of a revival that would help the economic recovery.

Chartered surveyors reported selling an average of 17.4 homes over the three months to March, the highest number since March 2010. Confidence has been slowly returning to the UK housing market since the end of 2012 and transactions have also risen for three consecutive months.

Surveyors also said demand improved, as a net balance of 11pc reported rises in enquiries from new buyers, compared with those who reported a fall. This marked the strongest reading since October, after a subdued start to the year. Researchers speculated this could be due to the improving affordability of mortgages.

Peter Bolton King, director at RICS, said: “A buoyant, healthy property market is central to economic recovery and, while these are still very much early signs, it is encouraging that sales are beginning to pick up. The increase in potential buyers getting out there and viewing property is particularly encouraging.”

The Government’s Funding for Lending scheme, launched last August to give banks access to cheap finance, has been cited by lenders as a factor pushing down on bank funding costs and helping to reduce interest rates for customers.

The are concerns in some quarters that the Chancellor risks supporting a “bubble” in prices through his Help to Buy push, which will massively expand the mortgage guarantee and shared equity schemes available to would-be buyers.

Looking ahead, respondents are optimistic that the recent increase in transactions is set to continue. A net balance of 19% more surveyors expect sales to rise further over the coming three months. Moreover, price expectations indicators for both the next three and twelve months have been in positive territory for the last four months.

Source: Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS)
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