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Fall in demand but property prices holding, says RICS

Nearly £28 million was paid out in Fife
Nearly £28 million was paid out in Fife

House prices look set to remain firm despite a recent dip in activity, according to a report.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said May brought a slowdown in activity in the Scottish market due to a decline in new properties coming up for sale and a drop in inquiries from would-be buyers.

The body’s UK residential market survey found a net balance of 13% more chartered surveyors reported a fall in demand while an overall balance of 8% saw sales tail off last month.

But house prices north of the border held steady, the organisation said, with a net balance of 15% more respondents expecting prices to climb in the next few months.

RICS partly attributed this to the continued decline in supply and said supply has failed to keep up with demand for much of the past three years.

Some surveyors questioned for the study spoke of the impact of the looming referendum on European Union (EU) membership.

Craig Henderson, of Graham and Sibbald in Glasgow and west Scotland, said: “In recent weeks a number of clients have raised the Brexit issue and questioned the potential impact if the UK chooses to leave the EU.”

Alexander Inglis, of CKD Galbraith in the Borders, told the survey: “New buyer enquiries and agreed sales have slowed down in the run-up to the EU referendum.”

Looking at the UK picture, 10% more respondents predict that prices will fall over the next three months – the first time that a drop in prices has been predicted since 2012. Surveyors said London and East Anglia are expected to be the worst hit.

Sarah Speirs, director of RICS in Scotland, said: “Across the UK it appears that we are looking at a short-term drop in house prices caused by the uncertainty resulting from the forthcoming EU referendum, coupled with a slowdown following the rush to get into the market ahead of the tax change on the purchase of investment properties.

“In Scotland, prices look set to remain firm, despite a dip in activity, as demand continues to outpace supply.

“We urge the new Scottish Government to make the delivery of housing, across all tenures, a priority during their term.”

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