U.K. House Prices Eke Out Gains as Fewer Sales Are Agreed

(Bloomberg) -- U.K. house prices are edging higher, but the market remains subdued.

A survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors showed a national gauge climbed to eight last month -- a result that was the highest since June but only consistent with a marginal increase in prices. London remains a weak spot with a reading of minus 32, though that’s the capital’s least negative measure since April.

U.K. House Prices Eke Out Gains as Fewer Sales Are Agreed

The U.K. housing market has been hurt by slower economic growth and a squeeze on consumers’ incomes since the referendum to leave the European Union in 2016. RICS’s measure was as high as 58 in 2013, and averaged 29 during the past five years.

“Activity levels remain very low, not helped by the uncertainty of Brexit negotiations,” Alun Jones at the Marler & Marler real estate agent in Knightsbridge, London, said in the report.

RICS also said that both new buyer inquiries and agreed sales fell last month, while brokers reported little response to the government’s move to scrap a tax on home purchases for some first-time buyers.

December was a “slow end to an even slower year,” said Chris Charlton of Savills in the East Midlands city of Nottingham. A “lack of stock is likely to damp the 2018 market with little sign of change in the near future.”

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