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.”