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North West housing market slows as stock levels continue to slump

Momentum in the North West’s housing market slowed last month, as buyer demand and newly agreed sales fell.

According to the latest RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) UK Residential Market Survey, interest from would-be buyers fell for the seventh consecutive month in March.

This subdued trend could also be seen in the lack of new instructions (homes to sell) which have fallen consistently now for over two years.

The RICS report cites the current lack of fresh stock coming onto the sales market in the region as one of the main factors impeding demand and sales, with average stock levels on estate agents’ books remaining at near an all-time low.

Respondents are not anticipating stock levels to rise in the short term either, with just 13% more agents expecting sales to rise over the coming 12 months.

The lack of available housing stock across all tenures in the North West is continuing to impact prices in some areas, with 25% more respondents reporting a rise in house prices during the month of March (down from a net balance of +34% in February), whilst 83% more contributors are antcipating a price increase over the next 12 months.

Respondents were also asked how long a sale usually takes – from listing to completion – with sales revealed as taking an average of 15 weeks to complete in the North West.

Comparatively, sales in the West Midlands were revealed as the quickest to complete, with the average being 13 weeks, whilst in Wales, sales at present take the longest to complete, at an average of 21 weeks.

Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, says: “The latest RICS results provide little encouragement that the drop in housing market activity in the North West is likely to be reversed anytime soon.

“Apart from the implications this has for the market itself, it also has the potential to impact the wider economy, contributing to a softer trend in household spending.

“This could make Bank of England deliberations around a May hike in interest rates, which is pretty much odds-on at the moment, a little more finely balanced than would otherwise be the case.”

About Author: Lawrence Saunders

Lawrence is a journalist at Move Publishing. He can be contacted via email at lawrence@movepublishing.co.uk or by phone on 0151 709 3871.