The latest report from Rightmove has revealed a busy start to 2018. According to the site, visits are up by over 9% so far in January when compared to same period last year.
The stats revealed that the average price of property coming to market is up 0.7% this month, similar to the 0.6% rise at this time a year ago with a virtually identical number of properties coming to market. However both years are well behind the average monthly rise of 1.9% seen at this time of year in the faster-rising markets from 2013 to 2016. Additionally, Rightmove says buyers are "still being very choosy", as shown by the number of sales agreed in the last quarter of 2017 being lower than a year ago in all regions.
The boost given to first-time buyers by the abolition of stamp duty means that properties in that sector are facing higher demand and consequently more upwards price pressure, especially if supply is limited. Their typical target sector of two bedrooms and fewer has seen the biggest rise of 1.1% in the last month, ahead of second-stepper properties at 0.4% and top of the ladder at 0.8%.
Overall, supply remains tight, with average overall stock per estate agency branch holding steady at 42 properties, the same as a year ago. Miles Shipside, Rightmove director and housing market analyst, commented: “All regions are currently selling at a slower rate than a year ago, indicating choosier buyers. The total number of sales agreed was 5.5% down in the last quarter of 2017 compared with the same period in 2016. Setting tempting asking prices and then quickly reducing them if there is little initial interest will be key to turning this promising level of buyer activity into actual sales, especially in the less active sectors and locations of the UK.
There is no sign so far of any rush to come to market and try to sell, with the number of new-to-the-market properties holding steady against the same period a year ago at around 63,000. With no increase in fresh supply, and an overall average of 40% of properties on agents’ books already sold subject to contract, would-be buyers in some sectors and locations of the UK are seeing less choice to tempt them, fuelling some localised price rises. While potential buyers are still busy looking, they are looking for good value and the right property. Price rises have had a good run and the return of the days of optimistic pricing is consequently some years away and contingent upon earnings increasing and interest rates remaining low.
Those selling to ‘quick-off-the-block stamp-duty-saving first-time buyers’ are set to have a busier first quarter than those trying to sell in other sectors. We expect that many first-time buyers will act fast to satisfy their appetite to get onto the housing ladder and secure their property at today’s prices, before any stamp duty savings are eaten up by rising property prices.”