LONDON (Reuters) – A measure of British house prices edged down in October but there were signs that buyers and sellers were sitting on the sidelines at least until next month’s election, a survey published on Thursday showed.
In the latest sign of weakness in the housing market against a backdrop of Brexit uncertainty, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said its house price index slipped to -5 from -3 in September.
That was a touch below the median forecast of -4 in a Reuters poll of economists.
New sales instructions fell for a fourth month but less severely than in September when they tumbled at the fastest pace since Britain voted to leave the EU in a referendum in 2016, and there were signs they would remain weak.
New buyer enquiries and agreed sales remained negative too.
But near-term sales expectations improved and sales were expected to be broadly stable over the next three months in most of the country, RICS said.
“The latest survey feedback continues to suggest that both buyer and seller activity remains in a holding pattern, hampered by political and economic uncertainty,” Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said.
“Given the upcoming general election next month, it appears unlikely that these trends will pick-up to any meaningful extent over the remainder of this year.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has called an election for Dec. 12 in an attempt to break the impasse in parliament over his plan for Brexit.
(Writing by William Schomberg)