Chartered surveyors say that their expectations for property sales in the East were at their most positive in more than four years during April – and point to the the government’s announcement on the ‘Help to Buy’ scheme making a real impact on the housing market.
The latest RICS residential market survey, released this wee, shows that 33 per cent more surveyors now expect sales in the East to rise rather than fall over the coming months – from a negative balance of 19 per cent in February.
The last time surveyors were this positive was back in October 2008. The latest jump strongly suggests that ‘Help to Buy’ is beginning to have an impact on the market even if the mortgage guarantee element of the product is not due to come into effect until next year.
Meanwhile, supply of properties on the market remains in positive territory, with a net balance of seven per cent more surveyors reporting rises in new instructions (from 13 per cent).
Surveyors suggest that potential sellers are now more confident to test the property market and put their home up for sale.
In line with this increased confidence prices are finally beginning to improve, and the survey recorded its first positive reading for house prices in the region since February 2010.
Newly agreed sales improved, too, with a net balance of seven per cent more surveyors reporting sales rose rather than fell during April (from -12 per cent in March). Meanwhile, average sales per surveyor over the past three months remain at 18; the past two months readings on sales are their highest levels for three years.
Despite the improving picture for mortgage lending, many are still relying on the private rented sector, with demand for rented property continuing to outstrip supply.
The result is that five per cent more surveyors expect rental prices to rise rather than fall. That said, respondents to the survey anticipate rents rising by less than one per cent over the next year. This plateau may be in part due to a healthier housing market and increased access to mortgage lending.
RICS East residential spokesperson Jan Hÿtch said: ‘This is probably the most confident and sustained activity we have seen in the spring residential market for the last four years. The signs are encouraging.’