The U.K. housing market saw an increase in new buyers for the first time since November 2016 last month, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said.
There are several signs that the housing market is starting to stabilize, RICS said Thursday. Sales and new instructions started to pick up for the first time this year in June. A gauge of prices indicated stagnation after four months of declines.
U.K. home values have been suffering since the Brexit referendum in 2016, with London being hit particularly hard. Still, low interest rates, record employment and a shortage of homes for sale have put a floor under prices and prevented a sharp downturn.
Sales are expected to increase over the next 12 months, but the looming possibility of a no-deal Brexit is preventing realtors from becoming too optimistic.
“The latest data provides further evidence of the sales market settling down,” said Simon Rubinsohn, chief economist at the RICS. Nevertheless, “I don’t get the impression from the insight provided by contributors that this is fueling hope of a significantly more active market going forward.”
Here’s a roundup of comments made by agents in the RICS survey:
Colin Townsend — John Goodwin agency in the west midlands:
“Another steady month. 2019 looks like being a more solid year than feared at the start.”
Craig Pilgrim, Pilgrim Bond agency in the south east:
“Uncertainty over Brexit still exists although some green shoots are appearing.”
John Corben, Corbens agency in the south west:
“The malaise that has affected the market over the last several months remains. Confidence generally is at a low ebb and will remain so until the government’s uncertainties have been satisfactorily resolved.”
Nigel Steele, Jackson-Stops agency in east Anglia:
“The market is showing encouraging signs of increased activity. Hoping this will continue if confidence returns to the political scenario.”