A three-year high for house sales was recorded in March, thanks to growing market confidence. The latest Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) housing market survey revealed that activity is increasing, with chartered surveyors reporting to have sold an average of 17.4 homes over the last three months. This is the highest number of transactions since March 2010.
Confidence has slowly been returning to the market since the end of 2012, contributing to the recent sales increase. Not only did transactions reach new heights for the quarter, but sales rose consecutively month-on-month. This stability has also been mirrored in prices, with respondents to the RICS survey claiming values barely moved during March. Just one per cent more surveyors reported price falls and values have now been relatively stable for two quarters.
It seems demand for housing is also increasing, with the number surveyors noting more prospective buyers going out and viewing property during March increasing by 11 per cent. This is the highest reading since October and RICS claims the government's efforts to encourage banks to offer more affordable mortgages are paying off.
The number of homes coming onto the market has been little changed, with just two per cent more surveyors reporting a rise in new instructions. This means the shortfall of fresh stock coming onto the market is a key issue for buyers.
Peter Bolton King, RICS global residential director, commented: "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. Thanks to initiatives such as Funding for Lending, mortgages are becoming more accessible to buyers, which is gently easing the pressure on the market and freeing up stagnant chains."
Surveyors in the West Midlands have experienced the largest increase in homes sold over the first quarter of the year, followed by those in London. Sales appear to be the flattest in East Anglia and the East Midlands. However, surveyors are confident that sales are on the rise and 19 per cent expect sales to increase over the next three months.
Is all the optimism and confidence all it would appear to be?
The other side of the coin here
- Thursday 11 April 2013