UK housing market recovery gains more ground, RICS survey shows

By Thomson Reuters Apr 10, 2024 | 6:06 PM

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s housing market last month saw the strongest levels of interest among buyers in more than two years and a gauge of house prices also touched its highest since 2022 as a recovery gathered more momentum, a survey showed on Thursday.

The figures from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors added to recent signs of stabilisation in Britain’s housing market, driven by cooling inflation and falling mortgage costs after their rise hit demand in 2022 and much of 2023.

RICS’ gauge of buyer enquiries showed a net balance of +8 in March, the strongest reading since February 2022 and up from +4 in February.

Its measure of house prices, while still showing more expectations of price falls than rises, hit its highest since October 2022 at -4, up from -10 in February and a low of 67 in September last year.

A Reuters poll of economists had pointed to a reading of -6.

“Demand continues to recover gradually across the UK housing market,” said Tarrant Parsons, senior economist at RICS. “This should continue to support the market to a certain degree going forward.”

The survey showed a growing share of surveyors expect house prices will rise in the next 12 months, across all parts of the United Kingdom.

Bank of England data published last week showed the highest number of mortgage approvals in February since September 2022.

House prices, as measured by official statistics, are around 20% above their level before the COVID-19 pandemic – mirroring big rises seen in many other advanced economies – although they have moved in a narrow range since the spring of 2022.

(Reporting by Andy Bruce; Editing by William Schomberg)