Mortgage market pushes house sales down to just one a week

12 August 2008 / by Rebecca Sargent
Activity in the housing market has continued to slow, despite signs that lenders are cutting rates. According to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the average estate agent sold little more than just one house per week over the past three months.

In fact, an average of 14.4 homes were sold in the last quarter, pushing down house sales to their lowest level since the RICS survey began in 1978. And, the mortgage market is to blame for the lack of sales as lenders continue to make them unaffordable, RICS said.

However, it seems that those wishing to sell their home amid financial turmoil are beginning to face up to the fact that it may not be worth what it once was as the house price balance corrects itself.

As a result of lower prices, the number of new buyer enquiries actually rose slightly, with only 27 per cent of surveyors reporting a fall in interest, compared with 35 per cent in June.

Despite the doom and gloom being experienced by Brits in the form of increased numbers of repossessions, according to RICS the number is much less than the last housing crisis of the early 1990s.

Commenting on the results, RICS spokesperson, Ian Perry, said: "The lack of mortgage finance has brought the housing market to a virtual standstill with first-time buyers rapidly becoming an endangered species.

"Going forward, there are signs that sales activity might pick up a little as sellers start to re-evaluate unrealistic asking prices."

Until recently, the UK economy has always had high levels of employment to fall back on, today tells a different story as those embroiled in the house building industry lose their jobs by the thousand. One factor that, according to experts, could make matters worse is rumours of a stamp duty break from the Government.

Mr Perry concluded by saying that "the current confused messages from the Government regarding stamp duty risks damaging any returning confidence and may discourage mobility."

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