LONDON (Reuters) - A measure of British house prices hit a six-year low in November as the approach of Brexit put off buyers and sellers, a survey of property valuers showed on Thursday.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said its house price balance sank to -11 in November from -10 in October, its lowest since September 2012, before Britain’s economy began to shake off the after-effects of the global financial crisis.
Price falls were most acute in London and the south east of England where property prices are highest, exposing them higher purchase taxes on expensive homes as well as worries about the impact of Brexit on the capital’s financial services sector.
Economists taking part in a Reuters poll had predicted the balance to remain at -10.
“It is evident ... that the ongoing uncertainties surrounding how the Brexit process plays out is taking its toll on the housing market,” Simon Rubinsohn, RICS’ chief economist, said.
“Indeed, I can’t recall a previous survey when a single issue has been highlighted by quite so many contributors.”
Rubinsohn said the survey showed the political upheaval around Brexit was not expected to be resolved soon.
“The bigger risk is that this now spills over into development plans making it even harder to secure the uplift in the building pipeline to address the housing crisis,” he said.
The survey showed the stock of homes on the market was close to its lowest level on record and there was no sign of a pick-up in new listings.
Sales expectations for the next three months fell by the most since the June 2016 Brexit referendum and the amount of time it took to complete sales was the longest since records began in early 2017.
But price expectations were stable over a 12-month horizon.
RICS measures the difference between the proportion of surveyors who see falls in prices compared with rises.
Direct measures of house prices, such as those published by mortgage lenders Halifax and Nationwide, have shown the weakest growth in around five years.
Writing by William Schomberg, editing by Andy Bruce