October 9, 2019 / 11:09 PM / 4 months ago

Fewest UK homes being put on sale since 2016 as Brexit nears - RICS

LONDON (Reuters) - Britons are holding off from trying to sell their homes due to uncertainty about when and how Britain will leave the European Union, according to a survey published on Thursday which adds to signs of a slowdown in the housing market.

The Canary Wharf financial district is seen behind a residential street in London, Britain, May 7, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said new sales instructions fell last month at the fastest pace since June 2016, when Britain voted to leave the EU in a referendum.

New buyer inquiries were down by the most since April, and sales fell by the most since February.

“Unless there is a speedy resolution to the ongoing impasse it does seem inevitable that the stand-off between purchasers and sellers will deepen,” RICS economist Simon Rubinsohn said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has vowed to take Britain out of the EU by Oct. 31, without a transition deal if necessary. But parliament has ordered him to delay Brexit if he cannot broker a new deal to smooth the economic shock.

RICS’s headline house price index edged up, rising to a three-month high of -2 from -4 in August, compared with economists’ average forecast in a Reuters poll for a dip to -7.

RICS said the index was consistent with a broadly flat trend in national house price inflation.

Downward pressure on prices was once again strongest in the London area, while RICS said house price gains remained solid in Northern Ireland, Scotland and northwest England.

RICS members expect more widespread price falls over the next three months before a pick-up over the coming year.

Mortgage lender Halifax said on Monday that average house prices rose by 1.1% in the year to September, the smallest rise in more than six years.

Reporting by David Milliken; Editing by William Schomberg

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