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Flat purchases drive property sales agreed to pre-pandemic levels

  • 12/04/2023
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Flat purchases drive property sales agreed to pre-pandemic levels
The number of sales agreed is nearing pre-pandemic levels for the first time since September, driven by growth in flat purchases.


According to Rightmove statistics, sales agreed between sellers and buyers are one per cent behind March 2019 levels.

Flat sales are 10 per cent higher than in March 2019, an uplift from 11 per cent down at the start of the year.

London showed the most pronounced recovery, with flat sales up by nearly a quarter compared to March 2019.


Overall sales agreed rebounded the most in London, or 11 per cent up compared to March 2019.

This was followed by the North East at plus five per cent and Scotland and South East at plus two per cent respectively.

The region that reported the largest dip in overall sales agreed compared to March 2019 was the East Midlands at negative 11 per cent. West Midlands reported an eight per cent drop compared to pre-pandemic levels and North West had a four per cent fall.

Rightmove said that across the UK sales agreed were 18 per cent below last year’s figures, which it said has been “exceptionally busy”.

The East of England reported a 27 per cent fall in sales agreed compared to the same period in 2022, followed by the South East at negative 23 per cent and East Midlands at negative 21 per cent.

The company added that average mortgage rates had edged down, with a five-year fixed with a 15 per cent deposit standing at 4.63 per cent in March, down from 5.89 per cent in October.

Rightmove continued that the average size of price reduction from first to last listing price is returning to its pre-pandemic level of six per cent, which is equal to £22,000 based on the current national average asking price.

The figure had dropped to five per cent during the pandemic.

The company continued that a third of properties see a price reduction, which is up from last year’s 19 per cent, but in line with the pre-pandemic level of 34 per cent.


Market is ‘surprisingly robust’ but not at ‘exceptional level’ seen during pandemic

Rightmove’s property expert Tim Bannister said that the market was “surprisingly robust” despite economic headwinds that had impacted movers over the last six months.

“While the market is by no means at the exceptional level it has been over the last couple of years, it is a positive sign for agents that sales at a national level are being agreed at the same rate as the last more normal market of 2019, though there are regional differences across Great Britain.

“The level and size of reductions has also returned to its pre-pandemic norm, though pricing right the first time can often lead to a quicker sale, so it’s important for sellers to speak to an agent about their local market so that they price realistically and give themselves the best chance of finding a buyer,” he noted.

Robert Sturges, Central London area director at Chestertons, added that it had noticed a “significant upswing in buyer demand for apartments of all sizes”.

“This demand for flats is driven by professional who wish to shorten their commute, parents who invest for their children but also overseas buyers who are taking advantage of favourable currency exchange rates,” he added.

Sturges continued that in the face of rising living costs some buyers may decide a flat is “financially more viable than a house at this moment in time”.

“Another driving force behind the demand for flats are renters who review their finances amid rising rents and decide that, despite higher mortgage rates, buying presents a better option long-term. We are therefore seeing a number of first-time buyers entering the market,” he explained.

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