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Demand grows as stamp duty holiday ends

Potential buyers continued to test the market during March as the stamp duty holiday finally came to an end, says the latest RICS UK Housing Market Survey.

New buyer enquires edged up in March, with 9% more surveyors reporting increases rather than decreases in demand, says the latest survey. This is the highest reading in almost two years and suggests that the final weeks of the stamp duty holiday saw buyers looking to beat the deadline.

Alongside this, the flow of new properties coming onto the market remained stable with a net balance of 2% more respondents reporting rises in new instructions (from +7% more in February). Significantly, many surveyors report that those looking to sell their homes must be realistic in their price expectations if they are to be successful.

Meanwhile, prices continued to edge downward across all areas of the country except London, albeit at a slower pace than in recent months. Ten percent more surveyors reported falls rather than rises in prices, representing the least negative reading since June 2010.

Looking ahead, with demand seeing gentle increases across much of the country, expectations for future transaction levels remain positive with a net balance of 20% more surveyors expecting sales to increase over the coming three months.