Activity surges in December as buyers return to the market

New data and analysis from haart has shown that buyers returned to the market in increased numbers during the usually quiet final weeks of the year, despite ongoing Brexit drama.

Related topics:  Property
Warren Lewis
31st January 2019

According to the data released, transactions across England and Wales jumped 14% on the month and 18% on the year in December with the number of new instructions rising by almost 30% on the year in the first two weeks of 2019.

National Trends

House prices across England and Wales fell by 0.8% and by 3.3% on the year. The average house price now sits at £221,965.

New buyer registrations fell by 18.1% on the month but is up 12% annually. The number of properties coming onto the market fell by 14.2% but has risen by 22.7% on the year. In December there were 9 buyers chasing every property across England and Wales.

The market has become more efficient this month, as the number of transactions has risen by 13.9% on the month, whilst the number of viewings has fallen by 19.2%. This indicates that buyers chose to view fewer properties before they purchased.

The average purchase price for first-time buyers has fallen by 0.9% on the month, but has risen by 0.6% on the year. This comes as the number of first-time buyers registering onto the market has dropped by 18.7% on the month and by 12.8% on the year.

The average amount first-time buyers are paying for a deposit has risen by 2.8% on the month, but has fallen by 6.4% on the year. Clearly first-time buyers are capitalising on low prices and are putting down larger deposits than needed to own more of their own homes.

The average property price in London has fallen by 5.6% on the month and by 7.7% on the year. The number of new buyers entering the market has fallen by 18% on the month, but has risen by 2.1% on the year. The number of new instructions has fallen by 10.3% on the month but has risen by 20.1% on the year. Sale transactions decreased by 6.1% on the month and recorded an annual fall of 15.8%.

The number of tenants entering the market across England and Wales has fallen by 9.4% on the month but has risen by 33.7% on the year. The average rent is up 4% on the month, but has fallen by 5.3% on the year, and the average rent now sits at £1,291 across England and Wales. Demand in London has fallen by 17% on the month, but has risen by 16.9% on the year. London rents are down 0.8% on the month but are up 6.5% on the year, with the average rent now sitting at £1,920.

The number of landlords registering to buy has fallen by 13.9% on the month and by 34.5% on the year across the UK. In London, the number fell by 10.2% on the month, and by 46% on the year. The number of buy-to-let sales rose by 9.8% on the year across England and Wales and by 55.6% in London. Average buy-to-let sale prices are up 3.8% across England and Wales on the year, and have risen by 5.8% in London.

Paul Smith, CEO of haart, the UK’s largest independent estate agent, comments: “2018 was dictated by depressed market activity as would-be buyers and sellers took stock in uncertain times. But this has created huge pent-up demand in the market, and we saw buyers return to in the usually quiet final weeks of the year, despite ongoing Brexit drama.

Over the Christmas and New Year period we experienced higher than usual footfall in our branches and phone activity was also up – a very reliable indicator of where the market is headed. The number of applications in the first two weeks of January is already up 4% on the year, and the number of listings is up by almost 30%. This increased interest in the market is already transferring into meaningful activity – transactions spiked in December by a very significant 14% on the month, and 18% on the year. A trend that I expect will only grow over the next couple of weeks.

The Brexit negotiation period is being drawn out longer than we anticipated, but evidently, buyers are not prepared to put their lives on hold forever. Clearly – the market is starting to move on.

In December we also saw a 17% jump in sales to landlords across England and Wales. This was matched by a 16% fall in sales to landlords in London. Savvy investors continue to head to pockets of the west and east midlands, and the north-west, where more favourable yields can be achieved. Aspiring landlords should remember that parts of the UK experienced price growth as high as 12% in 2018, there are 34% more tenants registering to rent on the year, and rents are up by almost 4% across the country. Now is the time to act whilst mortgage rates stay at rock bottom and lock themselves into a great deal.”

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