LONDON (Reuters) – Buyers returned to Britain’s property market last month as it reopened following the coronavirus lockdown but activity remained depressed, a closely-watched survey showed on Thursday.
The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said a net balance of +61% of its members reported a rise in new buyer enquiries in June, following a reading of -94% in May.
Still, the number of properties on estate agents’ books stayed close to all-time lows, RICS said.
The figures come a day after finance minister Rishi Sunak temporarily raised the threshold of a tax on property purchases to 500,000 pounds ($629,350) to boost activity in the housing market after the coronavirus lockdown.
The tax break, which affects England and Northern Ireland, will run until the end of March.
“Key activity indicators in the RICS survey suggest that the market is enjoying a short term bounce following the ending of the lockdown, with sharp spikes in the metrics tracking both buyer enquiries and new instructions,” RICS chief economist Simon Rubinsohn said.
“However, there are worrying signs that this rebound may quickly run out of steam against the backdrop of a tightening in lending criteria by mortgage providers, and the uncertain macro environment particularly with regard to the employment picture.”
The RICS monthly house price balance rose to -15% from -32% in May, with London and south east England among the weakest regions in the United Kingdom. A Reuters poll of economists had pointed to a reading of -25%.
(Reporting by Andy Bruce, editing by David Milliken)