West Midlands’ housing market on hold for now

By James Pugh | Business | Published:

The West Midlands housing market ended 2018 on a weak note with uncertainty still biting, alongside continuing lack of stock and affordability issues.

Housing sales in the region dwindled in December

The region’s sales volumes dwindled in December, as fewer buyers and sellers enter the market.

This is according to the December UK residential market survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Looking to the next three months, sales expectations for the region also remain negative, with the headline net balance of minus 35 per cent representing the poorest reading since the series was formed in 1999.

The 12-month outlook is a little more upbeat, however, suggesting that some of the near term pessimism is linked to the lack of clarity around what form of departure the UK will make from the EU in March.

In terms of prices, the headline indicator slipped slightly in December, falling to plus 11 per cent from plus 20 per cent in November. In the near term, respondents anticipate prices to fall further, and the 12-month outlook suggest prices will remain broadly flat.

Domestic issues related to the lack of supply and affordability continue to affect buyer and seller confidence in the regional market. Interest from would-be buyers remains in negative territory in December and the number of new properties being listed for sale continues to fall.

Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said: “It is hardly a surprise with ongoing uncertainty about the path to Brexit dominating the news agenda, that even allowing for the normal patterns around the Christmas holidays, buyer interest in purchasing property in December was subdued.

"This is also very clearly reflected in a worsening trend in near term sales expectations. Looking a little further out, there is some comfort provided by the suggestion that transactions nationally should stabilise as some of the fog lifts, but that moment feels a way off for many respondents to the survey.

“Meanwhile it is hard to see developers stepping up the supply pipeline in this environment. Getting to the government’s 300,000 building target was never going to be easy but pushing up to anywhere near this figure will require significantly greater input from other delivery channels including local authorities taking advantage of their new-found freedom.”

James Pugh

By James Pugh

Shropshire Star Business and Farming Editor.


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