private rented sector housing uk housing market

Buyer numbers up by 4% as UK housing market accelerates

The UK housing market continues to strengthen as we move towards the middle of the year, with prospective buyer numbers and viewings per property on the rise.

There has been a 4% rise in the number of prospective buyers registered at member estate agencies in Propertymark’s latest Housing Insight Report, pointing towards an ongoing rise in UK housing market activity.

This comes alongside a marginal rise in house prices, according to the agency’s data, of £1,216, bringing the average sold price in February 2024 (the latest figures available) to £280,660. This was mainly driven by price rises in both Scotland and Northern Ireland, which outpaced the rest of the UK.

On average, there are now almost 80 buyers registered per estate agency branch, which is up from last month’s figures and is well above December 2023 when buyer numbers depleted to less than 40 per branch.

Not only are more buyers registering their interest in finding a new property, but they are also pushing ahead with viewings, with the average property receiving around 3.5 viewings in March when the figures were recorded. This is a rise from the previous month, but follows a similar pattern to the seasonal average.

However, the fact that patterns are broadly in line with last year’s figures shows a stable market, with strong appetite despite the difficult economic and uncertain political backdrop.

UK housing market difficulties easing

One of the factors that may be bringing more buyers into the fold is the fact that affordability challenges are improving for many within the UK housing market. According to Propertymark’s analysis, the number of adults who are finding it “very or somewhat difficult” to afford their mortgage or rent payments fell in the latest figures.

This comes after several months of fluctuation in the difficulties being described by people in terms of being able to afford their living costs. But overall, the figure has remained lower than its peak in June/July 2023, when around 46% of people were struggling – now, the figure is around 35%.

Something that could keep house prices stable, though – as opposed to in decline – is the fact that new housing supply, which has been on the rise since December 2023, experienced a slight decrease in the latest figures.

On average, says Propertymark, around 10 homes per member branch were put up for sale in March 2024, which is just marginally down from February’s figure. This peaked back in August last year, when there were around 13 new sales instructions per branch.

The number of sales agreed in the UK housing market remained fairly static, though, remaining at similar levels to last year, while the gap between asking price and sale price remains fairly wide, despite closing slightly.

A more positive economic outlook

Although the base rate remains unchanged at 5.25%, where it has remained since August 2023, it seems likely that it will be lowered this year – potentially several times – as inflation decreases. Inflation has indeed been falling, with the latest figures showing that the CPI was at 3.2%, much lower than this time last year.

GDP (gross domestic product) has also increased, which is another positive marker for the economy and therefore the UK housing market. The latest figures show that it grew by an estimated 0.1% in February.

Nathan Emerson, Propertymark CEO, said: “Interest rates remained static in March 2024, and although the changes were small, GDP and inflation continued to move in the right direction. Barring global shocks, we remain optimistic that inflation will continue its downward trend, eventually allowing for interest rates to be reduced.

“Demand increased within the residential sales sector, with the number of buyers registered and the number of viewings per property both increasing. On the supply side, new instructions decreased slightly. Stock levels also decreased but remain on par with the same period last year.”

Keep up-to-date with the latest UK housing market and property investment news here. You can also get in touch with our team to find out how we can help you secure your next property investment opportunity. 

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