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UK housing slump endures in 2019 as Brexit hangs over outlook

[LONDON] The UK housing market stayed in the doldrums at the start of the year as Brexit caused both buyers and sellers to hesitate on deals.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said its headline price index fell for a fourth month in January, reaching the lowest since 2012, while measures of new enquiries, sales and listings all declined. The survey suggests both demand and supply for homes is subdued.

The country is due to leave the European Union in less than two months and it's still possible that it will do so without a transition in place, which is expected to hurt the pound and cause widespread economic damage. Rapid price growth in the past few years has also made homes unaffordable for many, especially in London and the southeast.

"Resolution of the Brexit negotiations is widely seen as critical to encouraging potential buyers back into the market," said Simon Rubinsohn, chief economist at RICS.

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Market voices on:

UK house prices rose an annual 2.5 per cent in December, the least since 2013, the Office for National Statistics reported Wednesday. London, the worst-performing region, experienced the first decline in values in a calendar year since 2008.

Here's a round-up of real-estate agents' comments in the RICS survey:

Chris Pilgrim, Pilgrim Bond, in the southeast:

"Market depressed due to Brexit, weather and time of year."

Edward Rook, Knight Frank, in Sevenoaks:

"The market wants to get going but uncertainty following the political mess is stagnating activity."

Christopher Ames, Ames Belgravia in London:

"There is a growing sentiment amongst owner-occupiers that they cannot wait through another year of Brexit uncertainty and will make their move if the price seems a fair value."

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