Rise in Plymouth house sales predicted this year
PLYMOUTH'S housing market could end the year on a "positive note" if sellers drop their prices, say industry experts.
New figures released by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) suggest the market should see a slightly stronger finish to the year with sales expected to pick up.
RICS said during September, members' expectations of future sales reached their highest level since August last year with a net balance of 36 per cent more South West respondents predicting transactions to rise in the final three months of the year.
House prices in the region remained unchanged and demand from house-hunters remained stable, claimed the RICS report.
However, it also found that interest from potential buyers had not seen any significant growth since summer last year.
The amount of homes coming onto the market throughout last month remained low, as one per cent more respondents claimed that supply had risen rather than fallen.
Roger Punch, RICS residential spokesman for the South West, said pricing was key to getting the housing market moving.
Mr Punch, who runs the Plymouth office of estate agents Stags, said: "More than ever this autumn, keen pricing is the key to selling.
"There are, as ever, quite marked regional variations in activity across the South West, but the viewing rate is fair and there are good buyers available – provided that sellers adjust their sights to the currently achievable price levels."
RICS said the predicted up-turn was largely due to the expectations of greater mortgage availability on the back of recent Government initiatives.
Peter Bolton King, RICS global residential director, said: "Unrealistic expectations on the part of vendors seem to be stalling the transaction process.
"Meanwhile, although the funding for lending schemes appears to be improving mortgage availability, those at the very bottom of the housing ladder are still struggling."
Ben Dreher, the Mutley branch manager at Mansbridge and Balment estate agents broadly agreed with the RICS report.
However, he said the "number one problem" in the housing market at the moment was the difficulty for buyers in being able to secure a mortgage.
He said: "The pot of people actually able to get money is so slim at the moment and the money you can borrow is not cheap if you're a first time buyer.
"The Government holds the reigns and if they could do something to impact it would put confidence back into the market place. Perhaps something like a Government-backed mortgage would help move things forward."
He accepted it was the role of sellers to pitch properties "at the right level", adding: "it's our job to give people the right advice, but it does come down to mortgage lending".
He said: "I think the year will end on a positive note. We've had more business in October than in the last couple of months, but we've had waves like this during the year. The earlier part of the year was good and then it quietened down in April and May. It is supply and demand and there is not a huge supply out there and not enough first time buyers."
He said there does not appear to be any expectation of drastic rises or falls in house prices.
"The market has found it's level – prices are not dropping and not going up. But our number one problem is people not being able to get money."