RICS: Sales at six year high

Over the festive period, the average number of transactions per surveyor reached 21.3, more than double the lowest point of the downturn back in January 2009 when respondents were selling a mere 9.8.

With more sales now going through, growth in demand for rented accommodation has begun to slow significantly as a growing number of renters opt to test the sales market.

Respondents note that increased confidence is a key driver behind growing activity.

Peter Bolton King, RICS global residential director, said: “The housing market is starting to thrive once more. Sales are at their highest level in almost six years and this is being reflected right across the UK.

“Growing availability of affordable mortgages has released some pent-up demand from a market that, in recent years, has seen many viable buyers unable to enter the market.”

Meanwhile, with the amount of homes coming onto the market still nowhere near enough to meet the higher level of demand, prices continue to rise across the country.

Peter Williams, executive director of the Intermediary Mortgage Lenders Association, said:“It is no real surprise to see the lag in new homes coming onto the market to meet higher consumer demand, as the RICS’ findings suggest.

“With expectations of a significant improvement in market conditions so low this time last year, IMLA’s own research shows the increased pace of growth took even mortgage lenders and brokers by surprise.

“There is no overnight fix to the shortage of new homes, but with government support fuelling a revival of mortgage lending, we do need to see the housebuilding industry stepping up to the plate.

“House price inflation will become less of a danger in the future as the mortgage market’s initial growth spurt levels out, but this relies heavily on a significant increase in the output of new homes to balance the equation.”

Also during December, a net balance of 56% more chartered surveyors reported growing prices.

Significantly, every area of the UK saw prices increase with London and the South East experiencing the biggest jumps.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, given the more positive tone to the market, expectations for 2014 are decidedly upbeat. Respondents predict that both sales and price numbers will continue to increase through the course of this year.

This is largely being driven by easing in credit conditions, resulting in higher loan to value mortgages, and the ongoing imbalance between supply and demand.