Scottish housing market slows down but outlook remains more optimistic


THE latest Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Residential Market Survey has revealed that despite activity in Scotland’s housing market slowing through April, prices are still rising. 

Demand and supply levels fell further into negative territory with a net balance of -18% of respondents reporting a fall in new buyer enquiries, down from -8% the previous previous, and a net balance of -28% of surveyors reporting a fall in new instructions to sell, down from -12% in March.

Sales were also reported to be dipping, with a net balance of -19% of respondents reporting a fall through the month of April.  

With supply and demand on the downturn, this could be weighing on the outlook of surveyors in Scotland, with a net balance of -11% expecting sales to decline over the course of the next quarter.  

However, respondents were more optimistic around pricing. A net balance of +21% of respondents saw prices rise over the past quarter, up from +8% in the previous survey. A net balance of -7% of surveyors expect prices to fall over the next three months, which RICS described as a ‘more modest’ decrease compared to the March survey, when a net balance of -20% expected prices to fall.  

Surveyors in Scotland are more optimistic about the outlook when compared to the UK average where -48% of respondents expect prices to fall over the next quarter. Respondents in Scotland are also more positive about the 12-month outlook, with both sales and prices expected to rise.

Ian Morton MRICS, of Bradburne & Co. in St Andrews, said, “The market is slowing down, with sales closer to home report values and purchasers being more cautious in their approach.”

Thomas Baird, MRICS of Select Surveyors in Glasgow, added, “We are finding a definite slowdown in the number of home report instructions compared to this time last year. Factors include higher interest rates and reluctance to sell properties with tenants in anticipation of changes to government legislation regarding Scottish tenancies in September.” 

Commenting on the UK picture, Simon Rubinsohn, chief economist at RICS, said, “Although the news flow around housing does appear to have steadied over the past month, key indicators from the RICS survey point to a series of challenges in both the sales and letting space. Most notably, buyer demand still appears to be subdued in the face of relatively high borrowing costs, the prospect of at least one more interest rate hike and ongoing affordability challenges. Meanwhile, the imbalance between demand and supply in the letting market still remains stark despite the significant increase in rents. 

“Critical to addressing both areas of the market is the delivery of more supply. However, indicators of the level of new housing starts in the early part of the year suggests that the picture is if anything continuing to soften as housebuilders activity reflects both macro uncertainty and policy developments.”