Estate agents optimistic for summer boost in house sales

Interest from house buyers dropped in April although rental demand increased, but signs are good for an upturn.
Interest from house buyers dropped in April although rental demand increased, but signs are good for an upturn.
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Interest from house buyers has dropped over the last month as uncertainty continues to affect the property market, according to the latest RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) Residential Market Survey.

Just ten per cent of chartered surveyors in Yorkshire and the Humber reported a rise in demand in April, compared with 47 per cent in March.

The dip follows on from a buy-to-let surge in the run up to the April 1 tax rise deadline.

However, agents in Yorkshire and Humber are optimistic that the sales market will improve shortly, with 33 per cent expecting to see a rise over the next three months, and 27 per cent anticipating price increases throughout May to July, although at a more moderate pace.

Pete Shield, of Shield Estates Ltd in Sheffield, said: “We’re seeing steady sales and interest from potential buyers but the uncertainties surrounding the referendum have resulted in some market hesitation. The rental market remains healthy, with well-presented properties proving particularly popular.”

The ongoing lack of supply could be one of the reasons some agents do not expect sales to increase in the next three months. The majority of chartered surveyors in the region reported a fall in new homes coming on to the market in April, with agents having an average of 58 homes on their books. This time last year, agents had 86 homes on their books.

The lack of available properties is unlikely to ease in the short term, leading to 74 per cent more chartered surveyors expecting prices to rise over the next 12 months. Prices are expected to increase across the UK over the coming year but the outlook remains positive over the next five years, with growth of between 3 and 5.5 per cent per annum forecast.

Demand for rental properties increased last month, with 48 per cent of agents reporting a rise, but, surprisingly, there was no noticeable increase in rental properties coming onto the market.

Alex McNeil, of Bramleys in West Yorkshire, said: “Investor buyers have to adjust to the recent changes in the stamp duty regime and now we’re preparing for further turbulence in the sales market, with the upcoming EU referendum.

“As for the rental market, there remains a strong level of tenant demand, particularly in good areas where the rents are higher. But there is still a shortage of quality stock and this will only lead to rents rising further.”

RICS chief economist Simon Rubinsohn said: “Uncertainty is a word that features heavily in the feedback we received from members who responded to the survey.

“More ominous is the expectation that both prices and rents will head materially higher over the medium term, despite existing affordability concerns, and the supply pipeline continuing to fall short of household growth, notwithstanding the various levers the government is pulling to try and drive development.”