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Brexit uncertainty hits UK housing market: RICS

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Uncertainty resulting from Britain's vote to leave the European Union (EU) brought about a marked drop in housing market activity, according to a survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

Agreed housing sales fell sharply, with a further drop predicted in the near term. According to the survey, which used data from June 2016, 26 percent more respondents to the survey anticipated a further drop in sales across the UK over the next three months, the most negative reading for short term expectations since 1998.

House price growth cooled during the month of June. But, London remained the only region where respondents saw prices fall (-46 percent net balance), with this mostly concentrated in central areas. In addition, 27 percent of survey respondents expected to see prices fall rather than rise over the next three months. Looking ahead over the coming year, sales expectations have turned negative for the first time in four years, as 12 percent more survey respondents anticipated prices falling rather than rising.

Brexit's impact on the UK housing market

Significantly, over the next year, the dip in prices was expected to persist only in London and East Anglia. In the long-term, prices were predicted to rise, though less than previously thought – a cumulative increase of 14 percent was projected for the coming five years. Rent expectations over the same time frame appeared more resilient, with an increase of just over 20 percent foreseen.

Despite Brexit uncertainty negatively impacting a number of markets, Simon Rubinsohn, RICS Chief Economist, commented, "Regardless of Brexit, it is likely that housing numbers would have slowed during the second quarter of the year, following the rush in many parts of the country from buy to let investors to secure purchases ahead of tax changes."

With regards to the future of the UK's economy, he added, "Respondents to the survey are understandably cautious but with interest rates heading lower and sterling significantly so, it remains to be seen whether the concerns about a possible stalling in both corporate investment and recruitment are justified."

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