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Survey Finds Signs of Life in the Housing Market

The latest Residential Market Survey from RICS has revealed a few signs of life as houses start to come back onto the market, but overall activity has apparently remained relatively flat.

The survey found that the UK housing market saw a stable trend in new instructions in May, with the headline indicator turning positive for the first time in more than two years.

However, although the numbers of houses coming on to the market has increased marginally, average stock levels on estate agents books across the UK was steady at 42.5, which is still close to an all-time low. It therefore remains to be seen whether the increase in May truly marks the beginning of supply pressures easing.

Looking at demand from buyers, while the number of new enquiries fell overall, the decline was modest in comparison to the beginning of the year. It should also be noted that the regional picture is still incredibly mixed, with six out of the twelve regions/countries covered in the survey seeing an increase over the month.

Demand from new buyers was reported to have increased in London, the South West, Yorkshire and Humber, West Midlands, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

The regional picture also remains mixed in terms of agreed sales. Although sales held steady for the second successive month at the headline level (with the least negative reading for fourteen months), the regional breakdown suggests that activity is rising firmly in just four regions.

Sales increased in the West and East Midlands, Scotland and Northern Ireland, but were either flat or negative across the rest of the UK. Looking ahead, respondents expect little change over the coming months at the national level.

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