THE North West's housing market is "on hold for now" says the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

The professional body described the market as ending 2018 "on a weak note with uncertainty still biting" and a lack of sales and housing stock.

However, it said the outlook for the year ahead was "more positive" with 42 per cent of RICS members who responded to its monthly market survey expecting sales to rise in 2019.

“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," said Simon Rubinsohn, chief economist for RICS.

" 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."

December saw sales and inquiries from buyers continue to "dwindle", said RICS.

Only two per cent of North West estate agents who responded expected sales to pick up any time soon.

The professional body said: "Anecdotal evidence suggests this near-term pessimism is linked to the lack of clarity around what form of departure the UK will make from the EU in March."

Twenty per cent of agents reported a rise in house prices in December. That figure was down from 24 per cent in November.

RICS said an "ongoing" lack of houses for sale was "contributing to the more positive outlook for prices".

It said stock levels in the North West had fallen for the third month in a row.