Brexit and the general election are hitting the housing market everywhere that it hurts, the RICS reports this morning.
The RICS also bluntly called on the next government to stop tinkering with the private rented sector through “misguided” reforms.
According to RICS estate agency members, new buyer enquiries, sales and new instructions are all down for yet another month. Market appraisals have also dropped again.
Prices are flat, and on the lettings side, tenant demand continues to rise as more landlords get out of the sector.
The RICS report said that enquiries from new applicants fell for the second month running in October right across the UK.
Sales also dipped everywhere, other than in Northern Ireland where agents noted a marginal increase.
New instructions were down for the fourth consecutive month across the whole of the UK.
In addition, agents reported a decline in the number of market appraisals.
On the lettings side, agents reported a drop in new instructions from landlords, and said that the pace of decline is gathering momentum.
RICS agents expect to see more rent rises.
Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said: “Both buyer and seller activity remains in a holding pattern, hampered by political and economic uncertainty.
“Given the upcoming general election next month, it appears unlikely that these trends will pick up to any meaningful extent over the remainder of this year.
“The picture remains very different on the lettings side, however, with tenant demand gathering momentum over recent months. This is running against an increasingly tight supply backdrop for rental properties and seems set to squeeze the pace of rental growth higher going forward.”
Tamara Hooper, policy manager at RICS, said: “Persistent government meddling in the private rented sector has dampened landlords’ appetites to invest and expand their portfolios, with many consolidating their assets, or leaving the sector altogether.
“In addition, the regulatory changes have decreased stability and standards for tenants.
“The Government needs to stop tinkering – through misguided eviction processes, taxation and fees – and help provide a careful balance between landlords’ and tenants’ rights.
“This will encourage more landlords back to the market as well as ensure that tenants, including those who are most vulnerable, are not at a disadvantage in being able to find a suitable and affordable home to rent.”
Comments by agents who contributed to today’s RICS survey are revealing.
Andrew Taylorson, of Eckersley, in the north-west, said: “The farce associated with Brexit and political uncertainty and selfish behaviour compounds uncertainty in the market place. This makes both sellers and buyers nervous.”
In Norfolk, Nigel Steele of Jackson-Stops said: “Everything is now on hold.”
The survey had 3,345 responses covering 610 branches.