RiCS April survey

The April survey from RiCS needs some explanation. The Institution says members were “universally optimistic” reporting that more surveyors expected prices to keep falling but that the decline could stabilise in the coming months. However, if you read the survey you find the following;-

1. The number of surveyors who contributed was just 245.

2. The percentage of surveyors who expect prices to fall is the same (48%) as those who think they will stay the same. Just 5% thought that prices had risen in April.

3. The number of sales completed per surveyor stands at 10.6. I grant that this is up from 9.7 last month but still well below the 23.5 in August 2007, the peak of the market.

The RiCS are reporting that the members they sampled witnessed around 2,600 sales (245 contributors multiplied by the number of sales completed). According to the Land Registry in April last year there were 62,129 sales and in April 2007 95,273 so not much more than a modest sample. New instructions continue to fall sharply and RiCS blames changes to the HiPs rules for this. However they also note that the total stock of homes for sale has risen suggesting that there is still an oversupply of property.

But it is the headline that new buyer enquiries have increased to their best levels for a decade that I think is misleading. This is just playing with numbers. In fact there is very little detail in the survey about the numbers of new buyers other than some indistinct regional graphs. What RiCS seems to be reporting is the percentage change in new buyer enquiries and we should remember that two enquires are a 100% increase on one the month before!

People talking about green shoots would do well to watch out for sharp frosts!