The South East housing market has started the new year off in a similar fashion to the closing stages of 2017, according to the January 2018 RICS UK residential market survey.
In January, new buyer enquiries, instructions and sales all continued to drift lower, while three-month expectations point to a modest picture – only 15% expect sales to rise over coming three months. However, there is more optimism regarding the 12-month sales projections with 33% of respondents in the South East expecting sales to increase over the year ahead.
New buyer enquiries declined last month with 19% more respondents reporting a fall, rather than rise, in demand from new buyers. Newly agreed sales also declined once more during January, extending the run of negative readings back to last February.
Meanwhile, the volume of new instructions (homes coming on to the market) fell for the second consecutive month with 27% of respondents reporting a fall in instructions – the weakest reading since May 2017.
Prices were also reported as falling in the South East last month, along with the North East, and East Anglia (albeit all to a much lesser extent than revealed in the capital). Conversely, the North West of England, Northern Ireland and Wales posted the strongest price growth (in net balance terms) compared with all other parts of the UK.
However, 25% more South East respondents are confident prices will increase over the next 12 months.
In the lettings market, tenant demand edged lower, in the three months to January (not seasonally adjusted series), with 28% more respondents reporting a fall in demand for rental property. Landlord instructions also fell prompting flat rental growth expectations for the near term.
The regional renting picture remains as varied as the buying market in the South East. Rent expectations are still negative in London, although to a lesser extent than any other quarter since 2016. Meanwhile, rents are anticipated to see little change in the South East on the same basis as the capital.