London housing market faces negative outlook for start of 2019, warn surveyors

 
Sebastian McCarthy
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In the poorest reading since the survey began in 1999, some 41 per cent more respondents have predicted that property sales will continue to fall, rather than rise, in the capital over the next quarter (Source: Getty)

Fresh fears for the future of London’s subdued property market were brought to light this morning, with forecasts for growth in the capital hitting their lowest levels in two decades.


As uncertainty bites both buyers and sellers, a record number of surveyors are predicting that activity in the capital will remain negative over the next three months, according to a poll out today from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics).

Read more: London house prices fell sharply in December

In the poorest reading since the survey began in 1999, some 41 per cent more respondents have predicted that property sales will continue to fall, rather than rise, in the capital over the next quarter.

Evidence of a slowdown during the Christmas season has also emerged, with 19 per cent more surveyors reporting a fall in house prices as opposed to a rise, marking the fourth consecutive monthly fall and the weakest reading since August 2012.


New buyer enquiries also reportedly fell for a fifth month in a row during December.

“It is hardly a surprise with ongoing uncertainty about the path to Brexit dominating the news agenda, that even allowing for the normal patterns around the Christmas holidays, buyer interest in purchasing property in December was subdued,” according to Simon Rubinsohn, Rics chief economist.

Rubinsohn added: “This is also very clearly reflected in a worsening trend in near term sales expectations. Looking a little further out, there is some comfort provided by the suggestion that transactions nationally should stabilise as some of the fog lifts, but that moment feels a way off for many respondents to the survey.”

The news comes a day after figures from the Office for National Statistics found that London had the lowest annual growth in the UK, with house prices fall 0.7 per cent over the year to November.

Read more: How will Brexit impact UK house prices in 2019?

A combination of limited consumer purchasing power, fragile confidence and growing caution was keeping activity constrained, according to Howard Archer, chief economic advisor to the EY Item Club, said.

He added that “caution over making house purchases is likely being magnified by heightened uncertainties over Brexit”.