LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s housing market showed tentative signs of recovery in June as interest among buyers rose for the first time since shortly after the 2016 Brexit referendum and sales also staged a rare increase, a survey showed on Thursday.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) house price measure – the difference between members reporting price rises and falls – improved to -1, the strongest reading since August last year, from a revised -9 in May.
The reading was stronger than a median forecast of -12 in a Reuters poll of economists and RICS said it pointed to flat property prices over the next two quarters.
Prices in London and the south east of England continued to fall but rose across the rest of the country.
Britain’s housing market slowed sharply after voters decided to leave the European Union more than three years ago, but several indicators have suggested a stabilisation in recent months.
“The latest data provides further evidence of the sales market settling down,” Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said in a statement.
“But I don’t get the impression from the insight provided by contributors that this is fuelling hope of a significantly more active market going forward. Many of the factors that have provided a challenge during the first half of the year remain unresolved.”
EU leaders in April delayed Britain’s deadline for the leaving the bloc until the end of October and investors are increasingly worried at the lack of clarity.
Both contenders to become Britain’s next prime minister have said they are prepared for a no-deal Brexit if necessary.
RICS said its survey showed new buyer interest rose for the first time since November 2016 and newly agreed sales edged into positive territory for the first time in 28 months.
There were also signs that sellers were feeling more confident — RICS’ new instructions indicator turned positive for the first time in a year.
(Reporting by William Schomberg, editing by Andy Bruce)