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Optimism over Stamp Duty Reforms

There was a sluggish trend in new buyer demand and a tail-off in house price growth at the end of last year, according to the latest UK Residential Market Survey from RICS, however there is still an expectation that stamp duty reforms will support market activity.

The survey found that the number of potential new house buyers dipped for the sixth consecutive month in December and price growth fell to its slowest pace since May 2013.

Across the UK, 10% more surveyors saw the number of potential new buyers decrease in December 2014. London saw the weakest demand, with 45% more surveyors reporting a decline in enquiries – the eighth consecutive monthly decline. The North of England and the South West saw strong rebounds in demand, but the underlying picture apparently remains most upbeat in Northern Ireland and Scotland.

However, despite the slowdown, there is optimism that the stamp duty reforms will deliver a 2-5% boost in both sales and prices over the next 12 months.

Nationally, as a result of the weaker trend in buyer interest, sales expectations slipped to a net balance of 21% (down from 27% in November) and just 11% more surveyors saw prices rise in December, rather than fall, says RICS. The volume of agreed sales during December was little changed, while the average number of sales per chartered surveyor slipped to 19 (compared to 21.2 in the preceding December).

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