Uncertainty over the economy has been blamed for the housing market remaining subdued, at a time when it traditionally sees more activity.
A survey by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) described both supply of properties to market and buyer demand as "flat" during September. New instructions, which indicate supply levels to the market, increased slightly during the month, with five per cent more surveyors reporting supply of property rose rather than fell. But RICS said the rise was "relatively muted", suggesting that supply is still "stifled" in the region.
Roger Punch, a RICS spokesman, from Stags in Plymouth, said: "A somewhat subdued start to the normally refreshed late summer period, appears to be due to the further round of economic worries."Many sellers have adjusted their sights and have reduced their marketing prices, though, slowly resulting in fresh activity and an increasing volume of sales towards the end of the month. "Just three per cent more chartered surveyors reported an increase rather than decrease in demand from new buyers.
However, although surveyors note that more mortgage products are becoming available, the large deposits required by lenders continue to act as a barrier for many would-be buyers. The survey also revealed that the number of newly-agreed sales has continued to slip, but said realistically priced properties are continuing to sell.
Mr Punch said a further raft of quantitative easing from the Bank of England would help keep mortgage rates down. "This, if nothing else, should ease the pressure on existing homeowners and limit the risk of a material pick-up in repossessions," he said.
The house price balance remained almost unchanged during September, with 24 per cent more surveyors still reporting prices fell rather than rose (from 22 per cent). Price expectations also remained unmoved from August.
David Dark, of Seldons Estate Agents, Bideford, North Devon, said: "The market remains very price sensitive. Investors are still looking to purchase but the lack of available mortgage finance means there is a distinct lack of first-time buyers."But Robin Thomas of Strutt & Parker, Exeter, said the true picture was yet to emerge."The autumn is now the busiest time of the year for agreeing sales, as we proved in 2009 and 2010. October will be the real test of the 2011 market."