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The lack of movement in the housing market is pushing up prices for art and antiques, according to the latest quarterly survey by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

The survey showed that 22 per cent more surveyors reported rising rather than falling prices in the first quarter of the year, up from 17 per cent in the previous quarter.

The rise in prices is attributed to a lack of supply of art and antiques, because fewer people are moving house and clearing their collections of furniture and art works.

The biggest rises were in the prices of silver and jewellery, with 57 per cent and 41 per cent of surveyors reporting rising rather than falling prices respectively.

Although these are traditionally seen as safe havens for investors, their continuing strength is also due to the high scrappage value of precious metals.

At the top end of the market, oil and watercolours also performed well. For lots costing more than £50,000, 45 per cent more surveyors recorded rising rather than falling prices, up from 17 per cent in the previous quarter.

But signs of a recovery in the contemporary art market proved short-lived: it was the only sector where more surveyors recorded falling rather than rising prices.

Simon Rubinsohn, the Rics chief economist, said that the improvement in contemporary art prices at the end of last year was a result of a successful Frieze art fair, rather than a solid turnaround.

But he said the arts and antiques market remained “a strong performer as an asset class with prices rising in nearly all categories”.

He said the poor weather over the winter had had an impact on quality works coming to auction but demand had remained unaffected, thanks to the rise in telephone and internet bidding.

Looking ahead, surveyors remained optimistic that prices would remain buoyant: 48 per cent of them expected demand to outstrip supply, with 29 per cent believing the opposite.

“The lack of supply will continue to push prices up as long as transaction levels remain low in the housing market,” said Mr Rubinsohn.

Lex: Art market

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