The outlook for house sales is the most negative seen for two decades, with many surveyors blaming Brexit uncertainty.
Some 28% of surveyors expect sales numbers to fall over the next three months rather than increase, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS).
This is the most pessimistic reading since RICS began its housing outlook surveys in 1999.
For most of the UK, the number of house sales is expected to either remain flat or fall into the negative but East Anglia, Wales, the North East and Northern Ireland may see some positive territory, the December survey said.
The survey marked the fourth consecutive month of negative house price readings.
Brexit uncertainty was blamed by many surveyors who responded to the survey, with some mentioning the demands of stamp duty and lack of housing supply.
Many are finding that homeowners are opting to stay put until there is more clarity on the nature of the UK’s exit from the European Union.
The number of new homes coming onto the market continued a six-month decline and the number of new buyer enquiries fell for the fifth month in a row.
One surveyor in Guildford told the survey: “The uncertainty over Brexit has caused everyone to want to wait and see, stalling the market. There are no aspirational movers at present – only those who have to sell.”
Another from London said: “Prices continued to slowly fall in the last month or so across all offices, however we do think these falls are easing. Sellers are becoming realistic and our actual sales numbers are holding up.”
In Northampton, Brexit was described by one surveyor as a “cloud overhanging the market”, adding that its impact “cannot be underestimated”.
And in Stamford, Lincolnshire, one said: “Brexit has reduced liquidity through both vendor and buyer uncertainty without question. People do not appear to be moving unless they have to.”
Expectations for 12 months’ time are slightly better, however, suggesting the Brexit concerns could be simply a short-term consideration.
With the exception of London and the South East, prices are anticipated to either rise or hold steady across the other UK regions over 2019.
Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said: “It is hardly a surprise with ongoing uncertainty about the path to Brexit dominating the news agenda, that even allowing for the normal patterns around the Christmas holidays, buyer interest in purchasing property in December was subdued.
“This is also very clearly reflected in a worsening trend in near-term sales expectations.
“Looking a little further out, there is some comfort provided by the suggestion that transactions nationally should stabilise as some of the fog lifts, but that moment feels a way off for many respondents to the survey.”
Mr Rubinsohn continued: “Meanwhile, it is hard to see developers stepping up the supply pipeline in this environment.”
He said that, to get near to government building targets, this “will require significantly greater input from other delivery channels including local authorities”.
(c) Sky News 2019: Housing market has worst outlook for 20 years – report