RICS: Market flatlines in March

House prices are set to rise, as 21% more surveyors reported rising prices in March and 15% more expect them to increase over the next three months.

In London a lack of prospective buyers saw enquiries and the number of agreed sales fall for the 11th consecutive month, while 24% more surveyors reported a decline in the number of new properties coming onto the market.

Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said: “The boost that was given to the housing market by the Help to Buy scheme has begun to dissipate.

“Anecdotal evidence does suggest that election uncertainty may be having some impact on the market, but underlying the trends visible in the latest survey is a very real housing crisis which will urgently need to be addressed by the next government.

“It is significant that price expectations nationally are accelerating both at the three and 12 month time horizons and at the latter they are at their highest level since the spring of last year.”

Price gains are expected to be moderate across England and Wales, however Northern Ireland is currently leading the way in terms of growth.

Mortgage Advice Bureau head of lending Brian Murphy agreed that a lack of fresh supply is a worry, as he said: “If the imbalance between supply and demand is not addressed as a matter of priority, prices may be driven to levels that could see some first-time buyers with smaller deposits priced out of the housing market.”

The latest YouGov poll for The Sun puts Labour at 35%, the Conservatives at 34%, UKIP at 13%, the Liberal Democrats at 8% and the Greens at 5%.

Mark Riddick, Search Acumen chairman, said: “A possible hung parliament in May could actually prolong the market flatline until a stable government is established.

“In the meantime, the state of the housing market should serve as a signal to all parties that initiatives such as the Help to Buy ISA or the Tories’ proposed Right to Buy are no more than plugged-in policy measures which do not solve the housing market’s core problems: lack of affordability and a scarcity in housing stock.”

Shelley Naughton, head of professional negligence at claims company Your Legal friend, said people are likely to postpone buying new homes and instead will opt for improvements to their existing properties.