RICS calls for clarity over restarting the Scottish house buying process

RICS has urged the Scottish Government to provide clarity over the restarting of the house buying and selling process.

The organisation said a survey of members found that 80% of UK respondents have seen buyers and sellers pulling out of transactions in the wake of the Covid-19 situation.

RICS is looking for clarity over the restarting of practices such as inspections and valuations within clear parameters of public health.

Hew Edgar, head of UK Government relations said, “RICS last month called on the UK Government to explore confidence-boosting measures for the residential market when it is safe to resume, and given that 62% of UK members believed that a stamp duty holiday would boost sales and keep prices unchanged, we urge the Scottish Government to make the same assessment of the LBTT regime.

“The Scottish Government now has the opportunity to pave the way for a resilient post-Covid recovery, and should look at other palatable options that would kickstart market fluidity, such as reducing or removing LBTT for downsizers, or support the scaling up retrofitting of existing homes as both an economic stimulus and a spur to a healthier and greener housing stock for Scotland.

“That said, what the housing market needs first and foremost is clarity, and an unambiguous signal from the Scottish Government of when the house buying and selling process, including inspections and valuations within clear parameters of public health, can restart.”

RICS revealed that in April, a net balance of -93% of respondents reported a decline in new buyer enquiries, dipping further from a net balance of -76% in March. New instructions also continued to fall, with -96% of contributors reporting a drop rather than rise in new properties being listed for sale. This is the weakest net balance reading since the inception of this series in April 1999.

Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist commented, “Not surprisingly, the latest survey shows that housing activity indicators collapsed in April reflecting the impact of the lockdown. Looking further out, there is a little more optimism but the numbers still suggest that it will be a struggle to get confidence back to where it was as recently as February. Moreover, whether this can be realised will largely depend on how the pandemic pans out and what this means for the macroeconomic environment.

“Critically, to ensure the housing market can begin to operate in a more functional way and that developers have the confidence to continue building on the scale necessary to address the housing crisis in these very difficult circumstances, further specific interventions from Government are likely to be necessary.”