LONDON (Reuters) – The number of new homes listed for sale in Britain rose in March for the first time in 12 months, potentially taking some of the heat out of a surge in house prices, a survey showed on Thursday.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said a net balance of +8% of its members reported a rise in the volume of fresh listings.
The balance for new buyer demand was +9%, making March the closest the market has come to balance between trends in supply and demand since the coronavirus pandemic began.
RICS said +74% of its members reported a rise in house prices last month, easing off from February’s revised +78%. A Reuters poll of economists had pointed to a reading of +75%.
Other measures of house prices have shown double-digit percentage rises over the past 12 months as the shift in demand towards larger homes away from city centres, that was triggered by the pandemic lockdowns, continued.
RICS Chief Economist Simon Rubinsohn said the housing market remained resilient despite concerns about the rising cost of living, including higher interest rates, and the war in Ukraine.
“It is encouraging that a little more stock appears to be returning to the market,” Rubinsohn said.
“This is still early days in that inventory remains not far off historic lows but if the trend continues, it could help to create a better balance between supply and demand.”
Although the Bank of England has raised borrowing costs three times since December to tackle high inflation – and looks set to do so again on May 5 – financing costs are low by historic standards, bolstering demand from buyers, Rubinsohn said.
(Writing by William Schomberg; editing by David Milliken)