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Property update: It’s a buyer’s market as Brexit and Christmas deter sellers

It’s the time of year when house prices start to taper off, so it might be a good time to bag a bargain before Brexit worries begin to ease off next year.

The number of properties coming onto the market has shrunk significantly, with 14.9% fewer currently listed compared to 12 months ago, according to new data released by Rightmove this week.

While this can be partly explained by a year-on-year asking price dip of 1.3%, or £3,094, which is fairly standard in the run-up to Christmas, it seems that Brexit uncertainty combined with the upcoming general election is causing even higher numbers of prospective sellers to hold off.

Buyers are waiting in the wings

However, the good news is that the number of sales is only 2.9% lower than this time last year in comparison, showing that buyers are undeterred and still keen on the UK property market – and now might be the best time to take advantage of the buyer’s market.

Miles Shipside, Rightmove director, says: “Our monthly poll of the housing market shows a clear swing towards hesitation for prospective sellers, leading to buyers losing the extra choice that thousands more newly-marketed properties would bring.”

He added: “In spite of this, buyers are continuing with their purchasing plans, with the number of sales agreed only marginally down on a year ago. Many buyers are getting on with their lives and making the most of the better negotiating opportunities that the distractions of electioneering and the seasonal slowdown in the run-up to Christmas can bring.”

Five-year trend

Five-year trend. Source: Rightmove

Waiting for stamp duty?

There were rumours earlier this year that the government might look into a stamp duty reform to kickstart the country’s housing market. One theory is that this is why some sellers are holding off, as this could potentially affect them the most – those who already own homes and want to step up the ladder to a more expensive property face the largest tax bill.

However, with the outcome of the general election currently very uncertain, it is impossible to say what tax changes may or may not come into effect for the property market, and people holding off for this might be waiting a very long time.

Glynis Frew, CEO of Hunters estate agents, remains relatively optimistic about next year, despite the political situation.

“There are many shrewd buyers who have been wise enough to bide their time and capitalise on the political uncertainty which, alongside the inevitable seasonal dip, offers a real opportunity for them snap up a winter bargain this year.”

She adds: “I’m sure the Boxing Day rush is going to be a manic one if the last few years are anything to go by. The market keeps on ticking over as life goes on.”

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