A NORTH-EAST MP who has recently been appointed a shadow housing minister said the market is in "crisis" and is in urgent need of a "considerable lift".

Stockton North MP Alex Cunningham's comments come after new figures released last week showed the Brexit impasse continues to challenge the North East’s housing market, with the volume of sales, new buyer enquiries and sales instructions all falling.

In March, 34 per cent of the North East’s agents saw a fall in buyer enquiries, down from 25 per cent in February, according to the latest RICS UK Residential Market Survey.

As buyer interest in the region declined last month, agreed sales also fell during March, and looking ahead, just two per cent of agents in the region expect to see sales levels rise over the coming three months, according to the figures.

Mr Cunningham said: "The crisis in the housing market continues as confidence amongst builders and buyers continues to slide. Even Government Ministers now appear to accept that much more needs to be done to instil confidence in the market and get house building accelerated.

"But it isn’t just the market that needs a considerable lift – the ongoing lack of affordable housing being built is denying potential first time buyers the opportunity to get on the housing ladder.

"They don’t even have the option of renting decent homes – what we need is a housing programme that will deal with both those problems."

Despite a reduction in sales, the ongoing decline in homes coming onto the sales market in the North East continues with 53 per cent of contributors reporting a fall in sales instructions month.

This is resulting in stock levels on estate agents’ books remaining lower than in previous years, at an average of 60 properties per branch. However, this is a much healthier amount compared with some regions, such as the West Midlands, Yorkshire and Humber, the South East and London, where agents all have an average of under 40 homes per branch on their books.

Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said: “Brexit remains a major drag on activity in the market with anecdotal evidence pointing to potential buyers being reluctant to commit in the face of the heightened sense of uncertainty.

"Whether any deal provides the shift in mood music envisaged by many respondents to the survey remains to be seen but as things stand, there is little encouragement to be drawn from key RICS lead indicators. We expect transactions to decline on this basis.

"Against this backdrop, there is little possibility of delivering the uplift in supply necessary to address the ongoing crisis.”