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9th July, 2020

Recovery in activity underway but long-term expectations remain cautious : RICS survey

The June 2020 RICS UK Residential Survey results point to a recovery emerging across the market, with indicators on buyer demand, sales and fresh listings all rallying noticeably, following the lockdown related falls beforehand.

But Chartered Surveyors still appear relatively cautious in their assessments the prospect of the improvement being sustained over the longer-term, as twelve-month sales expectations are now marginally negative.

In terms of buyer demand, a headline net balance of +61% of survey participants saw a rise in enquiries over June. This marks a strong rebound compared to readings of -7% and -94% posted in April and May respectively.

Furthermore, RICS members across virtually all parts of the UK reported a pick-up in buyer enquiries during June.

Property market latest

9th July, 2020

House prices fall for fourth straight month – but new mortgage enquiries surge: Halifax

On a monthly basis, UK house prices were down by some 0.1% in June, according to the latest edition of the House Price Index produced by Halifax.

In the latest quarter (April to June), house prices were 0.9% lower than in the preceding three months (January to March) but 2.5% higher than in the same month a year earlier.

"Average house prices fell by 0.1% in June as the UK property market continued to emerge from lockdown", said Russell Galley, Managing Director of Halifax. "Though only a small decrease, it is notable as the first time since 2010 – when the housing market was struggling to gain traction following the shock of the global financial crisis – that prices have fallen for four months in a row.

"Activity levels bounced back strongly in June, which is typically the busiest month for mortgage activity in the UK. New mortgage enquiries were up by 100% compared to May, and with prospective buyers also revisiting purchases previously put on hold, transaction volumes rose sharply compared to previous months. However, whilst encouraging, it remains too early to say if this level of activity will be sustained.

"The near-term outlook points to a continuation of the recent modest downward trend in prices through the third quarter of the year, with sentiment indicators, based on surveys of both agents and households, currently at or around multi-year lows.

"Of course, come the autumn, the macroeconomic landscape in the UK should be clearer and the scale of the impact of the pandemic on the labour market more apparent. We do expect greater downward pressure on prices in the medium-term, the extent of which will depend on the success of government support measures and the speed at which the economy can recover".

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At the same time, new instructions being listed onto the sales market also rose firmly over the month, evidenced by a net balance of +42% of contributors noting an increase (significantly stronger than the reading of -22% in May). Nevertheless, despite edging up slightly at the national level in June, the average number of properties on agents' books remains close to an all-time low of just 39 homes.

The survey's gauge of newly agreed sales moved into positive territory for the first time since February, with a net balance of +43% of contributors citing an increase in transactions during June. Moreover, sales are expected to continue to rise in the coming three months, albeit the near- term outlook is only modestly positive (net balance +16%).

Further ahead, at the twelve-month horizon, survey participants struck a more wary tone, as projections slipped back into marginally negative territory in the latest returns. Moreover, a common theme coming through in the comments submitted by contributors this month is that the challenging economic climate is likely to dampen market conditions for some time to come.

Alongside this, house prices continue to come under some downward pressure at the headline level, with a net balance of -15% of respondents seeing some degree of decline over the survey period. While this represents the third successive negative monthly reading for the national house price indicator, the latest figure is a little less downbeat than that posted in May (-32%). When broken down at the regional level, London and the South East currently exhibit the weakest momentum, returning net balances of -58% and -33% respectively.

Looking ahead, near term expectations remain consistent with a continued fall in prices over the coming three months. Notwithstanding this, sentiment on the outlook for house prices has turned progressively less negative in each of the last three reports, with June’s net balance of -12% up from -43% previously. In terms of the view beyond this, respondents now anticipate a flat to marginally negative trend in national house price inflation over the next twelve months as a whole.

In the lettings market, tenant demand returned to growth for the first time in three reports (non- seasonally adjusted monthly series), with a net balance of +24% of contributors seeing an increase. Meanwhile, having fallen significantly in recent months, landlord instructions were broadly steady at the headline level in June. On the back of this, rent expectations turned modestly positive, both in the near term and for the coming twelve months. As such, survey participants are now pencilling in around 1% rental growth nationally over the year ahead



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