RICS does its best to find reasons to be cheerful as outright declines stabilise

Sales are not expected to pick up within the foreseeable future, estate agents have warned.

However this morning’s new RICS survey manages to be slightly less gloomy than usual, suggesting that its members may have had a group hug.

Its estate agents say that while indicators on sales, prices and new instructions remain “slightly negative”, they are less so than before.

The RICS says that the south-east is now the most negative in terms of price sentiment but that London is starting to bounce back.

Outright declines in new buyer interest showed signs of stabilising in May.

The RICS also said that in the lettings market, tenant demand has risen for a fifth month in a row, while new letting instructions have declined.

Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said: “Some comfort can be drawn from the results of the latest RICS survey as it suggests that the housing market in aggregate may be steadying.

“However, much of the anecdotal insight provided by respondents is still quite cautious, reflecting concerns about both the underlying political and economic climate.

“Another significant point made by respondents is that there continues to be considerable emphasis on the need for realistic pricing on the part of vendors, which while not a new story, is indicative of the ongoing challenges.

“Meanwhile the lettings numbers are a source for some concern.”

Separately, website Home – which takes its data from portals and agents’ own sites – did its best to fill in the gloomy gap temporarily vacated by the RICS, by saying that selling a property in the UK “is becoming increasingly difficult”.

It said prices appear to be peaking in several more regions, and price-cutting looks “inevitable as properties spend longer and longer on the market”.

According to Home, typical time on the market is now 90 days, nine days longer than June last year.

While it says that asking prices have risen, this is “driven by aspiration but not mirrored by demand”.

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