Agents are anticipating more landlord exits and rent rises in 2020, while there are also concerns about supply.
A survey of Propertymark members found that 84% of letting agents think rents will rise next year, up from 65% at the end of 2018.
More than three fifths (61%) think demand will continue to rise, but 68% think the number of landlords operating in the private rented sector will decline next year, as they are driven out by rising costs.
In sales, just 28% expect supply to increase but 32% anticipate more demand.
More than a quarter (28%) expect house prices to fall next year – down from 43% last year when agents were asked the same question – while 56% expect them to remain the same.
A quarter of estate agents think the number of sales made to first-time buyers will increase and 58% expect it to stay the same.
The poll was taken in November, ahead of the General Election.
Both Propertymark bosses gave their backing for new regulations to be introduced sooner rather than later in the New Year.
David Cox, chief executive of ARLA Propertymark, said: “For far too long, successive Governments of all political persuasions have passed significant amounts of complex legislation for landlords.
“As a result, much of this year has dampened landlords’ appetites to invest and expand their portfolios, with many consolidating their assets or choosing to step away from the sector altogether. This has impacted tenants most, who have restricted supply and have been faced with less choice and paying higher rents.
“Looking ahead to 2020, we hope the Government recognises the importance of increasing supply for tenants and uses it as an opportunity to make the market more attractive for landlords.
“This will encourage more landlords back into 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.
“Change should make the PRS fairer for all involved, and not penalise those landlords who provide high quality, affordable housing for thousands of tenants.”
Mark Hayward, chief executive of NAEA Propertymark, said housing must be a priority for the Government.
He added: “A clear strategy is needed to tackle key issues such as Stamp Duty costs.
“Additionally, we’d like to see the Government commit to bringing regulation into the sector as soon as they can in the New Year and to consider the introduction of digital logbooks to allow for a more interactive, streamlined and transparent process for home buyers and sellers.
“The housing market needs reassurance from the Government, which will in turn inject some confidence in the market for both buyers and sellers.
“Despite the difficult year, the UK property market remains a strong sector overall, and has demonstrated a huge amount of resilience in the face of political turmoil.
“We hope for a more certain outlook and some stability in 2020, which is hopefully provided sooner rather than later.”