The UK housing market is dividing even harder along regional lines with sales activity and house price rises still healthy and even improving outside London and the Home Counties but continuing to struggle within them, says RICS.

Its market snapshot for August reveals a ‘downbeat’ but stabilising property market in London, continuing problems in the South East and East Anglia but rising prices and activity in Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Midlands, Yorkshire and Humberside.

In Northern Ireland 48% more RICS estate agents said the number of homes being sold had risen during August and in Scotland 36% more agents reported increased sales too.

But across the UK the number of estate agents reporting a fall in sales volumes increased by 10%, the most negative reading in five months, says RICS.

It says the main reasons for low level of activity in the market include Brexit uncertainty, the historically low levels of stock held by estate agents and the recent interest rise decision by the Bank of England, which has reduced buyer appetite.

Some 15% of agents told RICS they saw fewer new instructions during August.

Simon Rubinsohn RICS image“It is clearly very difficult to talk about the housing market at the moment without being acutely aware of the marked differences in trends across the UK,” says Simon Rubinsohn, RICS Chief Economist (left).

“As the latest RICS results highlights, in many parts of the country the housing market actually remains quite firm.

“While a combination of a lack of stock and some level of uncertainty, both relating to the interest rate outlook and Brexit, has had an impact on activity, the overall picture in these areas is still encouraging.”

Russell Quirk, CEO of eMoov, says: Sales are stabilising in the capital and when this translates to positive price movement, London will reclaim its crown as the UK’s price growth front runner. In the meantime, both sales and price growth remain very strong in other regions and these areas will continue to carry their weaker counterparts as we approach the finish line for 2018.