The Government must act ‘swiftly and decisively’ to help the house buying and selling process as the housing market is ‘on its knees’, says the RICS.

In a research report published today it said that housing sales are at the worst level for 30 years with estate agents averaging just over one property sale a week in the three months to July.

It called on the Government to adopt a ‘comprehensive set of measures which will both kick start the market now and significantly improve the consumer’s experience of buying, selling and occupying property in the future’.

First of these measures, the body said, must be increasing mortgage liquidity by creating incentives for the issuance of new mortgage backed securities and covered bonds to give investors the confidence to return to the market.

It said any such move would also have to include a proportion of funds dedicated to first time buyer. ‘To support this injection of lending funds, the RICS is also asking the Government to establish a tax free savings account supported by Government contributions to help first time buyers save for a deposit,’ it said.

Other measures proposed by the RICS cover a range of fiscal, regulatory and consumer-focused measures including: fundamental reform of stamp duty; a complete overhaul of housing models; clarifying shared ownership and rent-to-buy housing schemes and making them more accessible: and adopting a ‘fresh approach’ to consumer protection and information in property.

It said any Government rescue package should also include a mortgage rescue scheme, designed to enable people to stay in their homes with housing association assistance.

The RICS said any Government plans should be long-term and sustainable measures and ensure that empty homes are brought back into use.

It said this could be done by reducing the cost of bringing property back into use by cutting VAT on repair and maintenance and giving local authorities flexible powers to use empty dwelling management orders in ways ‘that reflect the dynamics of the property market’.

RICS director of external affairs Gillian Charlesworth, said: ‘ The market needs decisive Government action on a range of fronts if it is to pull itself out of the doldrums and we call on Government to listen to the market’s solutions to a whole set of problems.

‘We know there is no silver bullet that will slay this monster but we need a joined-up, comprehensive approach to bring back confidence and to give the public clarity about what is available.

'While we wait for the Government to act on all the necessary fronts, many home owners are trapped in a market offering little or no mobility without any prospect of good cheer in the Autumn.’