The slowdown in the housing market is deepening, according to the authoritative RICS survey of estate agents that shows price falls spreading across all regions of England and Wales. Financial Times, Times, Independent

Expectations for property prices are at their lowest since 1998.

New buyer inquiries are falling faster than new instructions to sell property, the RICS reports today, suggesting vendors will come under increasing pressure to accept offers below their asking prices.

The stock of unsold property on surveyors’ books increased by 8.7% in November, after the previous month’s 9.7% rise, and RICS said market conditions were the loosest since October 2005.

Some 41% more surveyors reported a fall in prices than a rise, the fourth consecutive month of negative sentiment.

Even in London’s more resilient market, the price balance has turned negative for the first time since September 2005.

The price balance does not give any indication of the scale of price falls, which could be modest, but the survey has proved a reliable early guide to the housing market’s direction. It is watched closely by economists and by the Bank of England.