The average number of transactions per surveyor, in the East of England, fell further in August according to the latest RICS Housing Market Survey. The survey published today (9 September 2008) says a lack of mortgage finance has continued to stifle the ability of buyers to access the market. 

The RICS house price balance improved slightly for the fourth consecutive month in the region, but still remains at a significantly low level. 80 percent more East of England Chartered Surveyors reported a fall, rather than a rise, in house prices, a decrease from 84 percent in July.

The continued inability of many to secure mortgage finance is reflected in the collapse in transactions. The average number of transactions per surveyor (over the last three months) is now at 13 in the East of England, the lowest figure since the question was first asked in 1978 - some Chartered Surveyor estate agents in a number of regions have reported less than one sale per week during August.  

Demand improved slightly in August. The balance of surveyors reporting new buyer enquiries increased with 22 percent more East of England Chartered Surveyors seeing a fall than a rise compared to 35 percent in July. In June and July, surveyors reported that many sellers had dropped asking prices to more realistic levels and that predatory buyers were waiting to pounce on bargains, but the traditionally weak month of August has seen this interest stagnate.  

New instructions to sell property fell back into negative territory with six percent more East of England Chartered Surveyors reporting a fall than a rise, compared to 0 percent in July. The latest repossession figures still remain well below the levels seen in the early 1990’s and the Government’s rescue package may have alleviated some of the trauma associated with this process.     

RICS East operations director, David Potter said: “A lack of mortgage liquidity is the key issue which is keeping the housing market from showing any real sign of recovery. While money is scarce, many will continue to be denied the next step on the property ladder. The Government’s stamp duty policy will not be enough to kick start transactions. More needs to be done to reinvigorate a market whose confidence has taken a severe knock."

Alan Coy FRICS, of Bannister & co, in Felixstowe, Suffolk, said: “The market remains slow with the volume of sales for July and August very low. The number of houses coming onto the market is fairly static, most being chain free. However, the number of houses available is increasing due to the lack of sales.”

Raymond Smith FRICS, of Watsons Residential, in Norwich, Norfolk, said: “One must price keenly and expect to haggle. As always, August is a quiet month – this year is no different. Some investors are coming back into the market, but only if the price is right. As last month – price is key.” 

Anthony Bromley-Martin MRICS, of Strutt and Parker, in Chelmsford, Essex, said: “August is always a quiet month. I feel that the trickle of slightly positive news filtering through might give us a better autumn.”