Brexit uncertainty ‘holds back house moves’

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PA

Buyers and sellers are “sitting tight” as Brexit uncertainty continues to freeze the UK property market, surveyors have said.

Some 77% of members asked by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said that the Brexit impasse was holding back activity.

New buyer enquiries, sales, and homes being put on the market all fell in February, the survey said.

This would mean a “challenging spring” for housing and the economy, it said.

The number of queries by potential buyers, sales and instructions from sellers had all dropped for six successive months. RICS has pointed to stalling activity, and sales taking longer to complete, in many of its recent monthly reports.

“[The survey] makes it pretty clear that the ongoing uncertainty around how Brexit will play out is the critical factor influencing both buyers and sellers,” said Simon Rubinsohn, chief economist at RICS.

“With little sign that the issue will be resolved anytime soon, it could prove to be a challenging spring for the housing market and the wider economy.”

However, surveyors were “broadly positive” about the outlook for the UK housing market in 12 months’ time, assuming that greater clarity would emerge in the Brexit process.

Commentators have also argued that the Brexit effect was having a greater impact on London and the South East of England than many other regions.

In his Spring Statement on Wednesday, Chancellor Philip Hammond promised some funds towards building affordable housing, and the Office for Budget Responsibility forecast that UK house prices would rise by 0.8% this year, and 1.3% next year.

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