‘New year bounce’ for UK housing market

Activity in the UK housing market picked up at the start of the year, surveyors say, with cautious expectations of the lift continuing.

The number of people looking to buy rose in January, as did the amount of homes for sale, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said.

Sales that had been agreed rose for a second month in a row.

RICs said an easing uncertainty about the general election and Brexit prompted the optimism.

Simon Rubinsohn, the institution’s chief economist, said the increase in properties being put on the market was a “much needed development” after new listings had been at record lows in recent years.

“It remains to be seen how long this newfound market momentum is sustained for, and political uncertainty may resurface towards the end of the year,” he said. “But, at this point in time, contributors are optimistic regarding the outlook for activity over the next 12 months.”

Various surveys have suggested the UK housing market has seen a pick-up following the general election.

North London estate agent Jeremy Leaf said: “We probably won’t know until the end of February or the beginning of March whether this renewed interest can translate into robust sales giving us more confidence that this housing market recovery is robust and sustainable.”

Spring tends to be the busiest time for the housing market, as buyers and sellers act on new year plans to move home.

Housing commentators had predicted the pick-up owing to the decisive election result, but there have also been expectations of a slowdown once the Brexit negotiations hit their next key deadline at the end of the year.

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