Mixed picture for housing market as sales see slight rise
Fewer properties were listed in January than the previous month.
The Scottish housing market experienced a slight growth in sales as the overall UK market got off to a slow start to the year, new figures show.
The latest findings from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) present a mixed picture north of the border, with the number of new properties being listed on the sales market deteriorating in January.
A net balance of -18% of surveyors reported a drop in new instructions to sell and demand from new buyers was flat last month.
Sales of properties already on the market did pick up in Scotland, however, with a balance of 14% of surveyors reporting an increase in new transactions.
The new Rics Residential Market Survey found that in the near term, those questioned are still cautious of the current climate, as concerns over the potential impact of Brexit, alongside affordability constraints, continue to cause buyers and sellers to hesitate.
But expectations are more positive for the market in 12 months, with an overall net balance of 16% of surveyors in the UK expecting sales to increase rather than decrease in a year's time.
In the near future, sales expectations for the next three months were "relatively flat" for Scotland.
Despite the cautious outlook, prices are continuing to rise north of the border, the report found.
Short-term expectations among surveyors for Scottish house prices turned positive last month, compared to the month before, although they remain below the yearly average.
In the lettings market, tenant demand declined in the three months to January, with a net balance of -17% more respondents reporting a dip.
Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said: "Although some contributors to the survey have taken comfort from a better start to the year than anticipated, a larger proportion are continuing to find the market a difficult one in which to do business."
He added that resolution of the Brexit negotiations is "widely seen as critical to encouraging potential buyers back into the market".
Mr Rubinsohn continued: "Meanwhile, the lettings market is continuing to see instructions fall away as investors respond to the emerging fiscal and regulatory landscape.
"This is resulting in feedback consistent with further increases in rents across the country, to a greater or lesser degree, over the next 12 months."