The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors has warned that prolonged Brexit uncertainty could further damage the UK housing market, after it revealed another slowdown in activity during February.
The monthly RICS UK Residential Market Survey found the housing market “struggling for momentum”, with key indicators for enquiries, sales and new instructions all subdued.
Buyer demand fell for the seventh month in a row in February, as 41% more respondents reported a fall in the number of new enquiries, while the headline price growth indicator slipped to a net balance of -28%, compared to -22% in January.
RICS said that represented the weakest momentum since May 2011, with the most negative feedback coming from London, the south east, East Anglia and the south west.
In addition, 77% of respondents cited Brexit as the biggest challenge facing the housing market at present, with 71% felt it was affecting both buyers and sellers. Only 8% believed Brexit was not having an impact on either.
Sentiment regarding the outlook for the next three months was subdued, the survey found, although the 12-month view was more positive, with a net balance of +23% of respondents anticipating sales returning to growth.
Hew Edgar, interim head of policy at RICS, said: “It is clear from [the] survey results that the wearisome state of British politics that has arisen from Brexit – particularly in the last six months – continues to take its toll on UK housing.
“UK parliamentarians must recognise that the prolonged uncertainty, without effort to address separate key issues, is damaging confidence in the housing sector.”
Simon Rubinsohn, chief economist at RICS, added: “Although activity in the housing market continues to be weighed down by the lack of available stock, changes in the tax regime and affordability, feedback to the latest survey makes it pretty clear that the ongoing uncertainty around how Brexit will play out is the critical factor influencing both buyers and sellers. With little sign that the issues will be resolved anytime soon, it could prove to be a challenging spring for the housing market and the wider economy.”