Property sales jumped immediately after the Conservatives’ decisive election victory last month, according to a new industry survey.
A majority of chartered surveyors interviewed across Britain reported a jump in the number of sales agreed in December compared with the previous month. It was the first time since May last year the monthly survey has seen more respondents predict growth than decline.
Expectations soared of greater sales over the year ahead among members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), which released its latest residential market survey on Thursday.
It showed 66% of members expected sales to increase, up significantly from the 35% last month.
Simon Rubinsohn, chief economist at RICS, said it was a fresh sign that greater certainty over Brexit from the decisive win for prime minister Boris Johnson had boosted confidence.
But he noted it “remains to be seen” if confidence survives with UK-EU trade talks yet to begin, and said a lack of affordability and available stock in many areas could hold down activity.
He called on the UK government to tackle challenges in housing supply as ‘help to buy’ support for first-time buyers and housebuilders is gradually phased out.
The survey comes a day after official figures showed UK house prices rising at the fastest annual rate in more than a year in December.
The latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed average prices rose by 2.2% in the year to November, a significant uptick on the 1.3% year-on-year growth recorded in October.
It also showed the number of sales down significantly on a year earlier, falling from almost 69,000 to just under 62,000. RICS said last month Brexit and election uncertainty had curbed activity.
The latest RICS survey found:
Increased interest from buyers in the majority of areas, particularly in Wales and the north-east of England.
The majority of members even in London and the south-east, which have seen a slowdown in recent years, saw rising buyer enquiries, areas which have seen a slowdown in recent years. The majority had seen falls or no rise in enquiries a month earlier.
Increased expectations of rising prices by chartered surveyors. More still forecast decline than increases, but the balance of those expecting gains narrowed from -11% last month to -2%.
“The Conservative’s victory in the election should pave the way for slow recovery after 3.5 years’ Brexit indecision,” said RICS member Christopher Jowett, of Huddersfield-based Jowett Chartered Surveyors & Estate Agent.
“Latent demand should filter through to restore confidence providing Mr Johnson and Mr Trump behave responsibly, and this is a big ‘if.”