How long it takes to get from instruction to completion shortened by seven days during January to 16 weeks, the trade body reports. Agents have reported property transaction speeds returning to pre-pandemic levels and also a month-on-month surge in home buyers within the property sales market, says RICS. The trade body reports a net balance of +16% of respondents its monthly agent survey said they’d seen an increase in new buyer demand, up from +9% in December and the strongest reading since the height of the Stamp Duty holiday in May 2021. Somewhat worryingly, agents also a further weakening in instructions, which many experts believe will see further surges in house prices in the coming months just as the Bank of England it wrestles with runaway inflation. But agent appraisals increased, RICS reports, giving a glimmer of hope that the property sales market will re-balance soon. QUICKER TRANSACTIONS The average time it takes to finalise a sale – i.e. from listing to completion – has now fallen to an average of sixteen weeks, down from seventeen weeks in September 2021 and the lowest since December 2019, indicating that sale speeds have nearly rebounded to their pre-COVID normal. The private rental market is in a similar state of affairs – agents reported a record number of rising tenant enquiries but declining landlord instructions. “There is an inevitable question mark over the impact of rising interest rates allied to the jump in the cost of living on homebuyer sentiment,” says Simon Rubinsohn, its Chief Economist (pictured). “Notwithstanding these developing themes, for the time being the signals on the outlook for both prices and rents remains a little worrisome with the twelve-month RICS indicators for both at, or near, series highs.