The average number of prospective buyers registered to each estate agent stood at 348 in December, down from 580 in November.
The average number of buyers indicated a slow down in activity over the year as it was the lowest recorded since the reopening of the property market in May.
First-time buyer numbers were stable in December as 23 per cent of properties were sold to those stepping on to the property ladder, a dip from 24 per cent the month before.
However, sales made to first-time buyers declined by five per cent compared to the same month last year.
Sales agreed in December also fell month-on-month to eight per branch, compared to 13 in November. Despite this, it was still the highest number of agreed sales recorded for the month of December in 14 years.
Demand vs supply
The drop in demand coincided with a decrease in housing supply in December, with an average of 33 available properties per branch down from 40 the month before.
Furthermore, 67 per cent of properties sold for less than their asking price suggesting sellers were repricing to attract buyers and transact before the stamp duty holiday deadline.
Just five per cent of properties sold for more than the asking price in December, down from 10 per cent in November.
Mark Hayward, chief policy advisor at Propertymark, said: “The number of potential buyers in the market fell significantly in December after Novembers’ record high.
“While we would ordinarily expect to see a lull over the festive period, these numbers show that the tightening of lockdown restrictions, coupled with the reality that many individuals would no longer meet the stamp duty deadline, has exacerbated this.”
Pressure leading to failed sales
Hayward added: “As we approach the stamp duty, land transaction tax and land and building transaction tax cliff edges on the 31 March, we are increasingly concerned about the pressure this is placing on the property industry with more than two-thirds of estate agents expecting to see an increase in failed sales due to buyers realising their sales will not complete ahead of the deadline.
“It’s important that action is taken now to prevent this and support the property sector.”