A survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors published today (15 April) shows that house sales and buyer enquiries flatlined in March while the number of properties coming onto the market fell for the second consecutive month, helping push prices back upwards.
According to the latest Rics UK Residential Market Survey, the supply versus demand imbalance led to 21 per cent more surveyors reporting a rise in house prices in March, up from 15 per cent in February.
There was also an increase in surveyors expecting prices to increase over the next three months, rising to 15 per cent compared with 10 per cent in February.
Across the nations, Northern Ireland is continuing to outperform the rest of the UK with the strongest house price growth in March and the highest price expectations over the next three months.
Price gains are expected to be much more moderate across much of the rest of the UK, particularly in Wales and Scotland.
Both the number of agreed sales and the lack of prospective enquiries fell for the eleventh consecutive month in London, with 24 per cent more surveyors reporting a decline in the number of new properties coming onto the market for sale.
Just 13 per cent more surveyors saw prices fall in March compared to the start of the year when 42 per cent more surveyors reported a decrease in prices. The average surveyor sold 19.5 properties, reflecting steady activity since Autumn that remains some way down on early 2014.
Simon Rubinsohn, Rics chief economist said:“The boost that was given to the housing market by the Help to Buy scheme has begun to dissipate and activity levels have slipped back.
“Even more worrying are the tentative signs that price momentum could be set to pick-up once again as the supply of stock to the market continues to fall.
“Anecdotal evidence does suggest that election uncertainty may be having some impact on the market, but underlying the trends visible in the latest survey is a very real housing crisis which will urgently need to be addressed by the next government.
“It is significant that price expectations nationally are accelerating both at the three and twelve month time horizons and at the latter they are at their highest level since the spring of last year.”
Jeremy Blackburn, head of policy at Rics said: “The Conservative Party’s proposal this week to extend Right-To-Buy will help relatively small numbers of tenants to move into home ownership, without doing anything to solve the shortage in overall housing supply.
“Aspirational home ownership is at the core of our economy but we must ensure that we have a future stock across all tenures and particularly for those on lower incomes.
“The proposed brownfield fund is a welcome means to unlocking land supply for more houses to be built in the next parliament however, it still falls short of a comprehensive housing strategy.”