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UK housing market stuck in the doldrums

Survey: Prices flat in May, but buyer interest picks up when sellers lower prices

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London was the weak spot, roiled by tax changes and the UK's decision to quit the European Union, while years of rampant price gains have also stretched affordability, putting off potential buyers.

London

THE UK housing market stayed stuck in a rut in May as activity and prices remained broadly flat, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).

The institution's gauge of prices came in at minus-3 last month, up from minus-7 in April but still consistent with no change in prices, it said in a report on Thursday.

While there were some cause for optimism, with a measure of new instructions turning positive for the first time in 27 months, forward-looking indexes suggested the market is unlikely to gain near-term impetus, RICS said.

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London was once again the nation's weak spot, although prices also dropped in the southeast and the previously solid southwest.

The British capital has been roiled by tax changes and the UK's decision to quit the European Union, while years of rampant price gains have also stretched affordability, putting off potential buyers.

"It is likely that the headline picture regarding activity in the housing market will remain subdued for some months to come," said RICS chief economist Simon Rubinsohn.

The wider picture of a subdued market tallies with a report from mortgage lender Halifax last week, which showed price-growth continues to moderate.

In the RICS survey, a number of brokers noted that buyer interest picked up as sellers offered lower prices.

"While the overall market remains subdued, as soon as pricing is realistic and buyers perceive value, then multiple interest will be shown," said James Perris from London's De Villiers Chartered Surveyors. BLOOMBERG