Sun brings out viewers, but home sales still sluggish

Sun brings out viewers, but home sales still sluggish

9:47 AM, 12th May 2011, About 13 years ago

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House with for sale signHome buyers came out with the sun as the number of viewings increased last month, according to estate agents; however, home sales are still sluggish due to the lack of mortgage funding.

The number of home hunters also increased slightly as the new instructions from sellers also showed an increase during April, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

RICS did point that even if prospective buyers put in an offer, the continued lack of mortgage funding is making purchases difficult to complete.

Cash sales are keeping the market treading water as almost one in 10 estate agents (8%) confirmed agreed sales showed a slight increase thanks to these wealthy purchasers.

The organisation’s monthly report for April also highlighted sales per estate agent increased to just over 15 per estate agent, the highest figure since December.

The outlook for house prices remains indifferent, with 21% more estate agents reporting higher prices, but expectations are prices will fall or at least fail to improve for the next three months. Estate agents also expect sales to drop over the next three months.

RICS housing spokesperson, Michael Newey, said: “The return of sellers to the market is positive, but activity still remains subdued and it is difficult to see it picking up materially over the coming months.

“Although there are signs that some lenders may be reducing their grip on the purse strings, in particular with mortgages aimed at first time buyers, there is still a long way to go before lending levels increase enough to have any real impact.

“Economic uncertainty may also continue to weigh on sentiment for a while to come.”

Another indicator of how the housing market is performing is property valuations – and one of the UK’s biggest survey firms, Connells, has reported carrying out 24% home valuations in April 2011 than a year ago.

Buy to let valuations were up year-on-year by 43%, although this is also an 11% decrease on activity in March.

Although the April total was the best for four years, the number of valuations was still 14% down on March – although Connells explained April had five working days less than March.

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