UK housing
The number of homes put up for sale fell for the 17th consecutive month in JulyReuters

The number of sales and new buyer enquiries in the UK housing market continued to remain sluggish in July, according to a fresh survey.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) said its house price balance fell to +1 from +7 in June, the lowest reading recorded since March 2013.

Surveyors said record low stock numbers, political uncertainty and the aftermath of recent tax changes were all hindering the housing market.

Newly agreed sales declined for the fifth consecutive month, while new instructions fell for the 17th month in a row.

Some 28% more surveyors said they expected higher house prices over the next 12 months, although this is the least positive reading since the UK voted to leave the European Union last year.

"Sales activity in the housing market has been slipping in recent months and the most worrying aspect of the latest survey is the suggestion that this could continue for some time to come," said Simon Rubinsohn, chief economist at Rics.

"One reason for this is the recent series of tax changes, but this is only part of the story. Lack of new build in the wake of the financial crisis is a more fundamental factor weighing on the market."

Agents said they had trouble selling expensive properties for close to their asking price in July, with two-thirds of homes marketed at above £1m ($1.3m) sold for less than what the owner wanted.

For homes listed at between £500,000 and £1m, a combined 57% of respondents said sales prices had been lower than asking prices.

Rubinsohn added: "The flatter trend in price growth is arguably a silver lining, but there is no real indication that the housing market will become materially more affordable anytime soon.

"Hence the need for the government to press ahead with the Build to Rent initiative, as well as continuing to focus on other tenures alongside home ownership to try address this critical issue."