Housing stock levels at 'concerning low' in Yorkshire

Activity in Yorkshire and Humber’s housing market was slow during February as average stock levels on estate agents’ books hit a near record low.

The slump was revealed in the latest monthly UK Residential Market Survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

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Continuing a prevalent trend; new buyer enquiries, new instructions (homes coming on to the market) and newly-agreed sales continued to drift lower in February.

The lack of homes to purchase is a long-standing problem, with the survey revealing new instructions fell last month to their lowest reading since July 2016, amidst growing concerns about affordability in some areas of the region.

As a result, the average stocks (per branch) on the books of agents in Yorkshire and Humber reached a near record low last month, at 38. In January agents in the region had an average on 37 homes on their books which was the lowest reading in over a decade.

Comparatively, agents in Wales had the most homes for sale on their books in February (89) followed by North East agents (64), whilst those in the North West had 51 properties for sale last month. Agents in East Anglia had the least amount of homes for purchase on their books (29) during February, followed by London agents, with 33.

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Looking at prices in Yorkshire and Humber, eight per cent more respondents noted prices were rising rather than falling in the region in February, whilst price expectations for the three months ahead were reported as flat. Respondents are more optimistic about the longer five-year indicator for prices, which are expected to increase at a slightly slower pace than rents, although both point to growth of approximately 15 per cent at the end of the five-year period.

In an additional question included in the survey, respondents were asked about key factors driving demand for new build properties. The main driver was the lack of stock in the second-hand market. This is followed by the appeal of the Help to Buy scheme with developer incentives and the ‘quality’ of new homes scoring lower.

Mike Darwin of M W Darwin & Sons in Northallerton said: “The lack of property coming on to the market is leading to increased prices and people not selling as there are no suitable properties to move to. The uncertainty in the economy and Brexit is making the problem worse.”

Pete Shield of Shield Estates in Sheffield added: “The current market is rather flat, partly fuelled by over cautious mortgage valuations based on historic completed sales.”

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Simon Rubinsohn, RICS Chief Economist said: “The consultation announced earlier this week on housing delivery put the onus squarely on developers and planning departments to up their game to lift the supply pipeline. But the feedback to the latest RICS Residential Market Survey casts some doubt as to whether this will be sufficient to address the challenge.

“Significantly, the longer term national house price indicator has begun to creep upwards once again in recent months despite the current somewhat mixed climate, and the private rent series also remains firm, in both cases pointing to increases of at least fifteen percent over the next five years.

“Meanwhile, the divergent regional picture is becoming increasingly pronounced with key RICS indicators across huge swathes of the country still showing considerable resilience.”