More homes were put up for sale in December but "unrealistic" asking prices are damaging sales volumes, according to the latest survey from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
Sales activity was stable in December, with the average number of completed sales per surveyor in the three months to December sitting at 15.2. While slightly lower than in November, the figure is still close to its highest level since autumn 2010.
However, sales expectations for the next three months are very low as surveyors report that "unrealistic price expectations" from some sellers are hindering sales and therefore dragging down the market.
"The increasing number of prospective sellers who placed their homes on the market in December is a positive development as a lack of stock has been a big issue in some parts of the country," says Ian Perry, housing spokesperson for RICS. "But with sales expectations remaining flat, it is important that vendors are realistic in their pricing if they wish the sale to go through in good time."
House prices continued to fall in December, according to the survey, but at the slowest rate recorded since June 2010. Surveyors reported that a lack of mortgage finance is the main factor hindering many prospective buyers, with the cash-rich best placed to buy.
"While it's encouraging that sales activity held up relatively well towards the end of the year, continuing problems with the economy and the ongoing instability in the eurozone seem to be weighing heavily on the UK housing market and expectations for the coming months are fairly subdued," says Perry.