Cupboard’s bare — stock on agents’ books hits record low, say gloomy surveyors

The average stock on estate agents’ books hit a new record low in February, according to the latest numbers from RICS.

Its latest UK Residential Market Survey showed a lack of new instructions had seen inventory on the books of agents who respond to the research hit a fresh record low of 42 per branch.

It comes as the report shows the key indicators for future activity in the UK housing market continue to remain subdued.

The percentage balance of new instructions fell by the biggest margin since last May, with 24% more seeing a drop rather than rise in business, while new buyer enquiries fell for an eleventh successive month where 16% more respondents experienced a fall rather than rise in enquiries.

It was a similar situation for agreed sales, with 17% more experiencing a dip rather than a rise.

RICS added that there were regional variations, with buyer continuing to increase in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Yorkshire and Humberside in February, but declining in London and the south east as well as the east midlands.

Agents also said sales were taking longer to complete, at 18.5 on average compared with 16.5 this time last year.

Despite this, they were positive about sales increasing over both a three- and 12-month period.

Almost 10% more expected sales to rise rather than fall in the next three months, while more than a third were positive rather than negative about transactions over the next year.

RICS also asked members about demand for new-builds, a key plank of the Government’s planning reforms announced this week, but respondents said the main issue nationally was a lack of supply in the second hand homes market.

Simon Rubinsohn, chief economist for RICS, said: “The consultation announced earlier this week on housing delivery put the onus squarely on developers and planning departments to up their game to lift the supply pipeline, but the feedback to the latest RICS Residential Market Survey casts some doubt as to whether this will be sufficient to address the challenge.”

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One Comment

  1. NewsBoy

    This really does raise concerns as the article two above suggests house price stagnation. Low stock and poor demand. Not exactly a recipe for a good year for agents!

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