Home buyers and sellers are back in market


Buyer demand now 11% higher than last year

The first weeks of January got off to a strong start with activity spurred on by falling mortgage rates and pent-up demand from the second half of 2023.

Our latest data shows this momentum has been carried into the first half of February.

At a headline level, buyer demand is running 11% higher than this time last year. Buyer numbers are up across all parts of the UK but London is firmly out in front, followed by the North East and North West regions.

London’s housing market has lagged behind the rest of the UK for seven years since 2016 with low levels of house price growth due to stretched housing affordability.

The average value of a flat is just 13% higher than in 2016, compared to the UK average house price being 33% higher and up to 50% higher in Wales.

Better value for money is improving the prospects for London but it remains an expensive housing market.

A healthier market with more sales agreed

One of the best ways to assess the overall health of the housing market is to look at the trends in the number of sales being agreed.

If buyers and sellers are agreeing more sales then that shows a healthier market, with people able to fulfil their home moving ambitions.

The fact we have almost a fifth more homes for sale than a year ago is helping, providing buyers with more choice and boosting the chances of sales being agreed.

Our latest data shows sales agreed are up across all regions and countries of the UK and more than 10% higher in six regions led by London, the South East and Yorkshire and Humber.

A line graph showing more sales being agreed in signs of a healthier housing market

 

Increasing demand and sales bring more sellers into the market

Improving market confidence is bringing more sellers into the market. We have seen an increase in the number of new homes being listed for sale.

The flow of new homes for sale is 10% higher than a year ago and the highest it’s been since 2020. New sellers are listing their homes at the fastest pace in the East of England, the South West and North East.

33 days to agree the sale of  a home

In 2023 the average sale took 34 days – from the property first being launched to the market to  a sale being agreed, subject to contract.

This is 2 weeks longer than the hotter pandemic fuelled market of 2022 – when homes went under offer in 20 days.

Pitching the asking price at the right level is key to attracting demand and getting a sale agreed. This can be harder for unique or unusual homes.  Sellers need to speak to local agents to understand the market and the demand for their type of home.

Richard Donnell's weekly column: 14th Feb 2024: time to sell average home

The longest sales periods in 2023 were up to 40 days in London and the South East with the fastest sales periods in Scotland (20 days) and the North East (30 days).

This difference primarily reflects housing affordability and the impact of higher mortgage rates on buying power in markets with high house prices.  It’s why falling mortgage rates are boosting activity more in southern England, especially London.

It’s important to note that once a sales has been agreed, it can take another 3-6 months for the legal and mortgage process to get to an exchange of contracts – and then legal completion, when you can get the keys to your new home.

A need for realism on pricing remains

We expect rising activity to continue over the coming months. The market is better balanced between sellers and buyers than it has been for 3 years.

Despite reports that house prices are rising once again, it’s important sellers keep their feet on the ground.

The positive news is that finding a buyer is going to be easier for most sellers but more choice of homes for sale will mean greater room for negotiation.

 

Source: Written by Richard Donnell – Home buyers and sellers are back in market – Zoopla

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