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August 12, 2008    

Rics: Number of people moving house falls to record low

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by Kay Murchie
Rics: Number of people moving house falls to record low

According to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics), the number of homes changing hands has fallen to levels not experienced since their survey started in 1978.

The organisation said the average number of property sales handled by surveyors across the country over the last three months plummeted to just 14.4 - the equivalent of less than 5 a month.

The lack of mortgages available on the market, as a result of the credit crunch, has meant that prospective buyers have been unable to secure a mortgage and this has resulted in the fall in housing transactions say Rics.

However, the organisation has noted that ’realism’ is returning to the UK property market as vendors started to drop their asking prices last month. Ian Perry of Rics has indicated that sales activity might improve over the next few months as a result of this.

However, the recent speculation that Chancellor, Alistair Darling, announced plans to temporarily suspend stamp duty on house sales could damage any returning confidence, according to Mr Perry.

The Chancellor has been accused of dithering and according to Mr Perry, this might prevent people from moving in the near future.

Rics added that while prices continued to fall last month, surveyors did not report such a significant pattern of decline as they had during the previous months. Their figures show that there were 83.9% more surveyors reporting a fall than a rise in house prices in July, compared with 86.9% in June.

Many more surveyors believe that prices will fall in the next three months than increase and this belief is particularly strong in Yorkshire and Humberside as well as the North.

However, one surveyor said they are expecting a very long 18 months before any improvement is noted.

Surveyors were not as sure of house price falls in London, the South East and the South West. One surveyor in London said that the static market was being talked down in reports about property prices.

Last week, the latest House Price Index from the Halifax revealed that property prices fell 1.7% in July.

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