The latest data and analysis from NAEA Propertymark has revealed that the number of house hunters registered per estate agent branch fell by 20% in December, but first time buyers were quick to take advantage of the quiet market, with sales to the group increasing.
A break down of the figures show that overall, demand for housing fell by 20 per cent in December, with 268 prospective home-owners registered per member branch, down from 333 in November. Echoing this, the number of sales agreed per estate agent branch fell to five – the lowest since December 2014 when there were also five agreed, and down from seven in November.
However, FTBs took it upon themselves to take advantage of the quieter month, as the percentage of sales made to the group increased to 32%. This is the highest rate seen since September 2016 when it stood at 32 per cent again, and up from 27 per cent in November.
Supply of homes
The supply of available properties remained fairly stagnant in December, falling by just one to 33 on average per branch. This is down 20 per cent from last December (2016) when agents were typically marketing 41 properties per branch.
The speed at which sales went through
The time taken between offers being accepted and exchanging contracts reduced marginally in December. 4% of sales went through in under four weeks – compared to an average of one per cent from January to November (2016). The percentage of transactions which took longer than 17 weeks to exchange fell in line with this, from seven per cent in November, to just four per cent last month.
Mark Hayward, Chief Executive, NAEA Propertymark said: “We see this year in, year out. Buyers take a back seat in December to enjoy the festivities, while sellers keep their homes on the market in the hope that someone will take interest and make an offer.
What we don’t usually see is FTBs capitalising on this slump and using it to their advantage – 44 per cent of our members think that the Chancellor’s stamp duty cut for FTBs will encourage more to make offers, and it looks like that’s what we’re starting to see. Hopefully this enthusiasm won’t falter when the second and third time buyers come back onto the market in the new year and competition hots up again.”