Agents 'sell one property a week'

The squeeze on the property market has forced sales to a new low as estate agents sell just one home a week, figures have revealed.

According to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the average estate agent sold just 12.7 properties in the three months to the end of August. Some admitted they struggled to sell even one property a week.

Part of the reason for the gloom surrounding the industry was explained by figures revealing the number of first-time buyers getting on to the property ladder had also sunk to a record low. Taken together the head of the UK's biggest building society warned that house prices could lose 25% of their value from their peak.

RICS blamed the lack of sales, which were the lowest recorded by the group since its survey began in 1978, on a combination of the mortgage drought and speculation surrounding the Government's recent announcement on stamp duty.

But the move received a subdued welcome, with most commentators saying it would do little to improve activity, adding that boosting mortgage liquidity was key to getting the market moving again.

RICS spokesman Jeremy Leaf said: "A lack of mortgage liquidity is the key issue which is keeping the housing market from showing any real sign of recovery. While money is scarce, many will continue to be denied the next step on the property ladder."

Copyright © PA Business 2008

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