The number of applicants dipped for the sixth consecutive month in December and price growth fell to its slowest pace since May 2013, according to the latest RICS survey.

The weakest demand was in London where there was an eighth consecutive monthly decline.

However, the RICS says that despite weakening demand, stock levels are almost at rock bottom.

It also says there is optimism that the Stamp Duty reforms will deliver a 2–5% boost in both sales and prices this year.

The exception is London where RICS agents expect sales volumes to decrease by between 5% and 10%, and prices to decrease by 2–5%.

Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said: “Critically, the stock of property on the market continues to hover close to historic lows, with new instructions to agents falling in ten of the last 12 months.

“Indeed, there is a risk that with so little housing available, any pick-up in demand could rapidly feed through into higher prices rather than higher sales.”

He added: “The flatter trend in the market is partly a reflection of potential buyers becoming a little more cautious about making a purchase as more stringent lending criteria has made it harder to access mortgage finance.

“An increasing awareness of the approaching general election also appears to be contributing to the softer market if the responses to the latest survey are anything to go by.

“However, with new instructions still flat at a headline level as has been the case for most of the last year it seems implausible that the dip in demand will result in very much of a decline in house prices.”

PROPERTYINDUCTRYEYE - 16/01/2014