Number of house buyers falls for second month

Sarah Speirs
Sarah Speirs

The number of potential new house buyers dipped for the second consecutive month in December, according to the latest RICS Residential Market Survey.

Across the Scotland, 40 per cent more surveyors saw the number of potential new buyers decrease in December 2014.

Despite the slowdown in demand, there is optimism that the Stamp Duty reforms, and the introduction of Land and Building Transaction Tax (LBTT) in April, will deliver a 2-5 per cent boost in both sales and prices over the next twelve months.

Aside from the weaker trend in buyer interest, sales expectations remained firm, with 68 per cent more surveyors expecting an increase in sales throughout Scotland during the next three months and a net balance of 32 per cent expecting prices to rise during this period.

Following the publication of the Scottish Government’s five-year review of the Home Report, a net balance of 83 per cent of surveyors questioned stated that clients viewed the Home Report as a valuable tool.

Sarah Speirs, director RICS Scotland, said the organisation will continue to work with the Scottish Government as the recommendations to make the Home Report more effective are implemented.

She added: “We expect changes to stamp duty, and the subsequent introduction of LBTT, will provide a timely boost to activity in the housing market throughout Scotland, however, there remain significant challenges particularly for first time buyers seeking to take an initial step onto the property ladder.

“Critically, the stock of property on the market, as identified in the Scottish Housing Commission Report, continues to hover close to historic lows with new instructions to agents falling in ten of the last twelve months. Indeed, there is a risk that with so little housing available any pick-up in demand could rapidly feed through into higher prices rather higher sales.

“The RICS lead indicators do provide some encouragement that the level of housebuilding will continue to increase over the course of this year but even with further growth, the volume of home starts will still fall well short of the number of new household being formed let alone making a dent in the historic shortfall of housing across all tenures.

Meanwhile, demand to rent property is growing as the sales market slows and this, coupled with a drop in supply of new stock to let, is helping to underpin the rental outlook for landlords pretty much across the whole of the country.

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