Stock levels return to record lows as agents warn Brexit continues to weigh on the property market

Brexit remains a “critical factor” swaying buyers and sellers in the property market, estate agents are warning as stock returned to a record low last month.

The latest RICS Residential Market Survey found that stock levels returned to their previous lows of 41.8 properties per surveyor estate agent in February, with much of the blame put on Brexit uncertainty.

A poll alongside the report found that 77% of surveyors cited Brexit as the biggest challenge facing the market.

The findings also showed that 40% felt a lack of stock was slowing sales activity, while 20% blamed affordability or tax issues.

Surveyors reported that buyer demand had fallen for the seventh consecutive month in February, while 41% more respondents reported a fall in the number of new buyer enquiries, and 29% of contributors reported a decline rather than a rise in new instructions over the month.

The report also highlights that the average time taken to sell nationally, from listing to completion, remains at 19.4 weeks, the joint longest average since the question was introduced to the survey two years ago.

Despite the Brexit and sales uncertainty, 23% more respondents felt sales would grow over the next 12 months.

Simon Rubinsohn, chief economist at RICS, said: “Although activity in the housing market continues to be weighted down by the lack of available stock, changes in the tax regime affecting property, and affordability, feedback to the latest RICS survey makes it pretty clear that the ongoing uncertainty around how Brexit will play out is the critical factor influencing both buyers and sellers.

“With little sign that the issue will be resolved soon, it could prove to be a challenging spring for the housing market and the wider economy.

“It is clear from professionals working in the market that this environment requires a greater degree of realism from those looking to move.

“A reluctance from some vendors to acknowledge the shift in the balance of power in the market will compound the difficulty in executing transactions.”


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  1. Mark Connelly

    Just another two years and Brexit property woes could be a thing of the past.

  2. J1

    It’s not all Brexit!

    Houses are becoming unaffordable in the face of the rising cost of living.

    A price correction is on its way.

  3. Ric

    Completely agree with J1

    My opinion, we are at the top of a cycle and unfortunately Brexit is happening at the same time, so being used as “the excuse”

    Take Brexit out and I think the market would still be changing, as more people are happy to live in smaller homes longer, or extend or rent.

    Whatever disposable income people have is something they do not want to lose, as we like a holiday or two so losing the luxuries in life over increasing a mortgage is no longer a priority it seems and as mortgage rates cannot really get any lower, the price of the property needs to drop, in order to reset the cycle and bring the steps in the property ladder closer together. Basic stuff? (well it is in my mind).

    For a couple of years now most of my valuations are Downsize, Death, Debt and Divorce. Mainly empty property or people moving down, without the first time and second times sellers wanting to more upwards (my area anyway) so a real stalemate.

  4. Woodentop

    Doesn’t bode well for “budget agents” who need volume to survive and are not making any money with good stock levels. If this continues we can expect to see a big name go to the wall? Share prices have stalled after a massive fall early this year and not recovered. This is news that normally would start to see a fall again as the city gets the jitters.

  5. jeremy1960

    Realistically we have the “perfect storm”, a market that has risen fast over short period of time correcting itself, uncertainty in the employment market, especially High Street retail & political unrest. Bringing these major factors together along with other smaller factors such as exchange rates and the market is just doing what the market does, reacting to the external & internal forces.

    As for 19.4 weeks from listing to completion, a lot of that is down to sellers being ill prepared (maybe not given correct advice by agents?) not instructing solicitors at point of marketing, not ensuring that solicitor is ready to issue contract and property information forms, fixtures & fittings immediately the sale is agreed and solicitors/conveyancers stuck in the dark ages insisting on postal contact, dictating letters when a call or email would circumvent and speed up the process!

  6. GPL


    We are like little boats bobbing on the ocean, always searching for calm waters or gentle winds to keep us moving foward.

    ……or there’s the big purple ship ahoy! …..throwing money furiously into its boilers to keep going!

    Smaller/adaptable….. not such a bad thing.





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