UK estate agents see surge in home hunters as supply remains low

Taylor Scott International News

The number of house hunters recorded by estate agents in the UK is at the highest level in nearly 10 years as supply is at a 12 year low. The latest figures from the National Association of Estate Agents shows that in September its members reported an average of 405 house hunters per branch, the highest since October 2004 with each agent averaging 511 buyers. The September Housing Market report also reveals that 82% of homes sold for less than the original asking price, suggesting that sellers still need to be flexible when it comes to pricing. While supply of housing increased slightly from last month, from 49 houses available in August to 51 in September, this figure is seasonally low for September. The last time that supply levels were lower for September was in 2002, when 43 houses were available per NAEA member branch. The NAEA says that it is promising to see that first time buyers now account for 30% of all sales estate agents reported for the month of September, compared to 28% in August and 20% in July. ‘The report demonstrates to us that people are ready to get on or move up the housing ladder, but the supply levels do not match demand,’ said Mark Hayward, NAEA managing director. ‘September is a notoriously busy month in the housing market. The kids have gone back to school after the summer and people want to get sorted before Christmas, however it seems a lack of affordable and quality housing has been a problem this month. Now that the economy is picking up and Brits are in more comfortable financial situations, more people will want to buy and sell homes, but may be restricted,’ he explained. Despite high volumes of house hunters, the majority of houses are being sold for under the sellers’ original asking price. Only 4% of properties sold in September were sold for more than the original asking price, and a stark 82% were sold for less than asking price, some 16% more than in July, when this was last reported on. The report also shows that 70% of estate agents agreed that the impending interest rate rise set for 2015 is already effecting demand in the housing market, this is up by a quarter from September when only 39% thought that the rise was already effecting demand. ‘There’s still a visible gap in the number of house hunters, and the number of properties available and the impending base rate rise is likely to have an effect on this, with almost three quarters of agents reporting evidence of the rise affecting demand already,’ said Hayward. ‘All of our research does emphasise the need for the government to take action and ensure measures are in place for more homes to be built in order for supply to eventually meet the growing demand,’ he added. Continue reading →

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