Housing market stumbles

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The hoped for spring bounce in the south west’s housing market failed to occur during May, as fears over the economy and lack of mortgage finance continued to depress activity levels.

The latest RICS UK Housing Market survey reported that the average number of completed sales per surveyor fell in the three months to May, to just 13.

Meanwhile, the average number of stocks per surveyor increased slightly to 60, as more properties came to market and many stayed on surveyors’ books for longer.

Given the rise in stocks levels and fewer sales levels during May, the sales to stock ratio – an indicator of the balance between demand and supply – fell to 22%.

Significantly, there was little sign of a renewed appetite to view property. Although still in positive territory new buyer enquiries fell from the previous month, with just 9% more surveyors reporting rises not falls in demand. Many surveyors in the region cited the bank holidays for the flattening of demand. Meanwhile, new vendor instructions continued to rise, but stayed at relatively low levels (+11%).

Turning to house prices in Devon and Cornwall, 46% more surveyors reported price falls rather than rises (from 20% more in April), representing the lowest reading since March 2009.