SURVEYORS have warned that Brexit is “taking its toll” on the UK housing market, with more home buyers and sellers now electing to sit tight.

The number of people looking to purchase fell last month, with a net balance of 21% of surveyors reporting house hunter numbers dropping, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (Rics) found.

Many comments attributed the drop-off in buyer numbers to Brexit uncertainty as well as a continued limited choice of properties for sale.

It now takes 19 weeks on average for a property to sell, the longest duration seen since this aspect of the survey started in February 2017 and “another sign of challenges in the sales market”, Rics said.

Simon Rubinsohn, Rics chief economist said: “It is evident from the feedback to the latest Rics survey that the ongoing uncertainties surrounding how the Brexit process plays out is taking its toll on the housing market.

“Indeed, I can’t recall a previous survey when a single issue has been highlighted by quite so many contributors.

“Caution is visible among both buyers and vendors and where deals are being done, they are taking longer to get over the line.”

House prices are slipping back in much of the UK, despite the limited number of homes for buyers to choose from.

However, house prices in Scotland continue to rise – as they do in Northern Ireland, the West Midlands, Wales, Yorkshire and the Humber and the north-west of England.

Overall, though, the number of new properties being listed for sale fell for the fifth month in a row in November.

Hew Edgar, Rics head of policy, added: “Rics shares the resounding sentiment of frustration from our professionals operating in the UK’s residential sector; and we are not surprised by this month’s outcome.

“Prior to the referendum, our research indicated that Brexit would only impact the higher end of the residential market.

“Now, however, it appears that those looking to buy and sell homes across the price spectrum – as well as those looking to invest in the UK’s residential sector – are putting off their decisions until there is

more certainty.”