'Brexit wrangling' drags home seller instructions to three-year low

9 October 2019, 21:10 | Updated: 10 October 2019, 03:59

The level of sellers putting their homes on the market has hit its lowest level for three years as "endless wrangling about Brexit" fuels political uncertainty, according to surveyors.

Figures for September showed a measure of new instructions by vendors putting their homes up for sale fell to -37%, its weakest reading since the month of the EU referendum in June 2016.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), which compiled the data, said that without a speedy resolution to the Brexit deadlock there could be a "direct hit" on the housing market.

September's figures showed the lack of average stock on estate agents' books remaining near record lows and little prospect of a pick-up in the immediate future.

The survey suggested that sales would remain subdued in the coming months and that house prices were flat overall - with a divide between falling in prices in London and the South East and solid gains for properties in Northern Ireland, Scotland and the North West.

Numbers of newly-agreed sales fell, with activity slipping in all parts of the UK.

RICS said anecdotal evidence pointed to "heightened economic and political uncertainty" behind the weakness in the market.

Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said: "There are good reasons for thinking the latest dip in both buyer enquiries and vendor instructions is a response to the endless wrangling about Brexit, as the 31 October deadline approaches."

He added that the gloom was not felt so much outside London and the South East.

"However, unless there is a speedy resolution to the ongoing impasse it does seem inevitable that the stand-off between purchasers and sellers will deepen making it harder to complete transactions.

"This will not only be a direct hit on the housing market itself but could have ramifications for the wider economy as the normal spend on furniture, fittings and appliances that typically accompanies a house move is also put on hold."