The RICS reports rush of buyers looking to purchase before April tax changes

For sale signs

Source: I See Modern Britain, on Flickr

For sale signs

Buy to let purchasers looking to beat the government’s proposed tax changes caused an unseasonal boost in home-buying activity in December, according to the latest figures from the RICS.

The institution said its monthly survey of residential agents found short term expectations of price increases were at a near two-year high, with 50% more surveyors seeing prices rises than saw falls.

RICS said price rises were being driven by a distinct demand-supply imbalance, with new buyer enquiries having risen faster than new instruction for the last eleven months.

In total, the RICS said, 43% more surveyors said thy expected price rises in the next three months in December than forecast falls, rising to 72% of surveyors when asked to look a year ahead.

RICS’ chief economist, Simon Rubinsohn said the housing market experienced an “unusually buoyant” December. “Potential buy-to-let investors are looking to pick up properties before the increased stamp duty levy comes into force in April. If that is the case, then we can expect to see the housing market heating up further over the next few months.”

The report comes after housing data firm Hometrack yesterday said the UK’s leading cities had seen house price growth of 11.4% in the last year, up from 10.4%. Cambridge, London and Bristol posted the highest annual rates of growth.

Richard Donnell, insight director at Hometrack, said: “With cities the focus of economic and demographic change it is no surprise that city level house price inflation continues to run ahead of UK house price growth which has also risen to 7.9%. The performance of house prices across these cities reflects the scarcity of supply and underlying demand for homes.