House sales at lowest level for 30 years

10 February 2009 / by Rebecca Sargent
The number of homes sold over the last three months has fallen to the lowest level since 1978, when the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors' (RICS) housing market survey began.

According to RICS, the average number of transactions per agency over the last three months was 9.9, down marginally from 10 sales per office in December.

Nevertheless, buyer enquiries are on the rise as 16 per cent more agents reported a rise in interest as opposed to a fall. This, according to RICS, represents those who have managed to secure mortgage finance, and are taking advantage of falling house prices and interest rates.

When it comes to house prices, RICS found that the number of surveyors that reported a fall in house prices rather than an increase, worsened from 73.9 to 76.3 in January.

On a positive note, it seems that there is some optimism returning to the housing market, as 10 per cent more RICS members are expecting sales to increase over the coming months compared to those expecting a fall in sales.

Commenting, RICS spokesperson Jeremy Leaf said: "The latest survey provides further evidence of the eagerness of buyers to try and pick up bargains.

"This interest has yet to translate into sales but transactions may pick up in the coming months if the Government follows through on its recent announcement and introduces guarantees for the issuance of residential mortgage backed securities.

"The latest cut in interest rates may improve confidence for those on the margins, encouraging buyers looking for more attractive financial deals."

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