Record home-hunter activity fuels rises in most regions

  • Active start to 2018 as housing demand continues to be resilient:
    • Price of property coming to market up by an average of 0.8% (+£2,414), indicating cautious optimism among new sellers
    • All regions see price rises except for marginal fall of just £131 in the South West
    • January busiest month ever on Rightmove with home-hunter visits hitting over 141 million
    • More sellers too, with number of properties coming to market up by modest 2% on previous year
    • Year-on-year change in number of sales agreed recovers from -5.5% in Q4 2017 to just -1.6% in January
  • Midlands dominates fast-selling hotspots with prices rising three times faster than the national average

Overview

Demand for housing remains resilient, with an active start to 2018. Indeed, the number of monthly visits to Rightmove in January is at its highest ever level, at over 141 million. This has helped to fuel a degree of cautious optimism among new-to-the-market sellers in most regions of the UK, with average asking prices up by 0.8% (+£2,414) this month.

Miles Shipside, Rightmove director and housing market analyst comments: “Whilst it is the norm for new sellers’ asking prices to be buoyant at the start of a new year, this first complete month in 2018 is seeing more pricing optimism than the comparable period in 2017. The political and economic uncertainty is out of sellers’ control, but they are in control of their asking prices, and in general they are not being overly ambitious or setting too high an asking price. This month’s rise of 0.8 % is well below the 1.6 % monthly average at this time of year over the last ten years, and it is wise for sellers to be cautious and not to over price given stretched buyer affordability.”

All regions but one have seen the price of newly-marketed property increase this month, with the South West being a very marginal exception with a fall of just £131. However, the annual rate of increase remains subdued at just 1.5%, dragged down to a degree by London’s year-on-year fall of -1.0%. But despite buyers’ price-sensitivity, home-hunter visits to Rightmove have hit a record high.

Shipside adds: “Rightmove is a great barometer of housing demand, and January was its busiest month ever with home – hunters spending over 1.1 billion minutes on the site. Encouragingly for buyers, there are more fresh properties for sale to look at too. With not enough supply of new – build properties, the market needs more churn from existing owners to get the healthy balance of buyer momentum without unhealthy property scarcity and consequently higher prices . Nationally, 2% more sellers have come to market this month compared to the same period a year ago, which is a small step in the right direction . However, with a myriad of local markets with different supply and demand dynamics, those contemplating a move should monitor their area and use the expertise of local agents with their fingers on the pulse.”

There are signs that the increased home-hunter activity is fuelling a recovery in the number of sales agreed, which in Q4 of 2017 were running at an average drop of -5.5% compared to the prior year. Taking the first full month of 2018 as a snapshot, sales agreed numbers in January have now recovered to -1.6% down compared to a year ago. Again there are marked local market differences, but Rightmove analysis of properties that have been newly listed since October 2017 and have been marked as sale agreed reveals that six out of the top ten fastest selling locations are in either the East or West Midlands. However, top of the quick-to-sell league is Livingston in Scotland, selling at an average of only 17 days, for those properties that have been newly listed since October 2017 and have sold.

Shipside observes: “The average price of newly-marketed property in the Midlands is up by over 5% compared to a year ago, a marked contrast to parts of London and its commuter belt . Many buyers in the Midlands are willing and able to pay more to secure their future home in a faster – selling market, resulting in Midlands prices rising three times faster than the national average . Much of the UK still has momentum, with good buyer demand for the right property at the right price, and the recovery in the number of sales agreed is another indicator of pent – up demand keeping the market moving.

Agents’ Views

Halinka Connelly, Branch Manager at Dixons in Bromsgrove, says: “January brought with it a real surge of activity and every property that came to the market at the beginning of the year is now sold, under offer or seeing very good volumes of viewings. Traditionally, January is a busy time in the annual property cycle but this doesn’t necessarily mean a high level of sales. However, in January 2018 all our properties have so far sold for asking price, or over, highlighting the strength of the market in Bromsgrove. Having experienced such a busy January we’re now looking for more properties to introduce to our buyers.”  

David Plumtree, Connells Group Estate Agency Chief Executive, says: “With our branches reporting brisk activity from the 2nd January, we have seen new instructions, applicant registrations and viewing activity all exceed the levels achieved in January 2017.  Within this, first-time buyers are continuing the trend that we’ve seen since the announcement of the stamp duty changes, with registrations up 11% on January 2017.  Sales are yet to see the full benefit of the increase in activity, however, with the confidence levels exhibited by both vendors and prospective purchasers moving ahead of those seen during the latter part of 2017, we do expect market conditions to show continued improvement during the first quarter.”

Kevin Shaw, national sales director at estate agency Leaders, says: “January saw a significant increase in new listings, applicant numbers and viewings compared with the start of 2017. This uplift in activity is a positive indicator for the year ahead, however the market is still price-sensitive and sellers should be aware that setting a realistic price based on local market conditions remains key to achieving a sale. We are certainly seeing greater market buoyancy in the Midlands, with average prices up around 5% compared with last year. Derby, Mansfield, Loughborough and Kings Norton are notable hotspots at the moment, with homes in these areas selling quickly, often at full asking price.”

Rightmove

UK Property news updates shared directly from Rightmove PLC - the country's leading property portal.

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