First time buyers have become endangered species says RICS as number of sales fall to lowest level for 30 years

Realism is beginning to return to the housing market according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), in spite of sales falling to their lowest level in at least 30 years.

In its latest housing market survey, the body reported that the average number of transactions per surveyor fell to 14.4 during the three months to the end of July – a record low and down from June’s figure of 15.3.

But house prices dipped slightly less than expected, with 83.9 per cent more surveyors reporting a decrease than a rise in house prices in July, down from 86.9 per cent in June.

The RICS said “some realism” had returned to the market, with sellers dropping asking prices to more sensible levels.

But it added that a lack of mortgage finance continued to weigh heavily on the market and the confusion over stamp duty was having a negative impact.

RICS spokesman Ian Perry said: "The lack of mortgage finance has brought the housing market to a virtual standstill with first-time buyers rapidly becoming an endangered species.

"Going forward, there are signs that sales activity might pick up a little as sellers start to re-evaluate unrealistic asking prices.

"However, the current confused messages from the Government regarding stamp duty risks damaging any returning confidence and may discourage mobility."