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Buyer demand more than doubled in January, Propertymark says

  • 29/02/2024
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Buyer demand more than doubled in January, Propertymark says
The number of new prospective homebuyers rose by 120 per cent in January to 74 per estate agency branch, an estate agent trade body said.

According to the Housing Report for January from Propertymark, this was a notable rebound compared to the prior month. The association said that, while activity was higher than the same period last year, it was still more subdued than 2022. 

Simultaneously, there was a 79 per cent increase in the level of new supply coming to market, up from December’s low. In January, around eight homes were placed for sale across each estate agent member branch, which Propertymark said was in line with levels seen over the previous two years. 

Stock levels rose during the month, with an average of 34 available homes per branch. According to the association, this put stock levels higher than equivalent periods in 2022 and 2023. 

The pipeline for new homes seemed promising, Propertymark said. In January, there was an average of around 24 market appraisals conducted per branch. This was an improvement on the low seen during the previous month, which fell to a year low of 10 per branch. 

Propertymark said: “With stock levels also up, there is a healthy pipeline of properties ready to meet increased buyer demand.” 


More viewings and sales agreed 

Property viewing numbers also improved, with three viewings per listing in January, up from 1.8 in December. 

At the same time, there were six agreed sales per branch on average, which was higher than the previous month’s four. Again, Propertymark’s data showed this was in line with the two preceding years. 

The firm said exchange times were still “problematic” as there was a rise in the proportion of transactions taking nine to 12 weeks to complete as well as those taking more than 17 weeks. However, there was a drop in the share of exchanges taking 13 to 16 weeks. 

As market confidence returned, estate agents reported fewer homes being sold below asking price and a corresponding rise in properties being sold at or above asking price. 

Propertymark said there was still a “misalignment” between valuations and market expectations. 


Rental stock rises as tenant demand stays high 

The number of prospective rental tenants went up from 63 in December to 90 in January, tracking usual seasonal trends. 

Rental stock levels rose to a 12-month high with around 12 properties per branch available. 

Despite this, demand still outstripped supply as there was an average of eight prospective tenants per property. 

After a spike in December, rental arrears fell in January. At the same time, half of the estate agents surveyed said rental prices were stabilising. However, the share of agents reporting a rise in rents increased from 35 per cent in December to 39 per cent in January. 

Nathan Emerson (pictured), CEO of Propertymark, said: “The new year has arrived and those who had delayed selling, buying, and renting in November and December 2023 have returned to the market en masse. 

“However, there has been little change in the economic environment that households must contend with – interest rates are stable but are higher than those seeking mortgages or remortgages would prefer, inflation remains some way off UK government targets, and gross domestic product (GDP) performance has been lacklustre. To complete this picture, the global geopolitical and economic landscape remains challenging.” 

He said: “The lettings sector has also rebounded after the festive break, with a positive increase in the number of prospective tenants registered and the number of properties available to rent. However, this will be a challenging year for the UK’s private rented sector (PRS) due to a plethora of proposed legislative changes. We will monitor the impact of these changes as they arise.

“Although 2024 has started well, it remains to be seen how long this initial uptick in activity will be sustained.” 

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