Like the snow, the property market seems a little unsure as to what it’s doing, with the Office for National Statistics reporting a fall in UK property prices of 0.3% last month (0.5% in England), and property price growth slowing slightly from 5% to 4.9%.
However, ONS and Land Registry figures are always out of date by at least a couple of months as they do not reflect current buyer activity, which, in relation to the supply of stock, is the greatest indicator of the future direction of property values. The good news here is that buyer activity is up 20% on last month and 14% on last year.
This increased demand has partly come from a 20% annual increase in first time buyers entering the market as well as, importantly, a 15.3% monthly increase in the number of properties entering the market. It is the sellers of these properties who are some of today’s prospective buyers and these are the wonderful people who oil the wheels of the property market. For the past few years, many prospective sellers have been reluctant to put their property on the market because of worries about finding a suitable new property, but we have certainly turned a corner on this now.
Interestingly the number of investment buyers has fallen by around 14% on the year, but these have been replaced by the increase in first time buyers, which is a healthy position for the market, but less-so for tenants, who now face an average UK rent of £1367. Whilst the government has delivered some great incentives for first time buyers, they still need to find ways of helping those who are not in a position to find the £10,000 – £18,000 deposit required in order to buy a starter home.
So if you are contemplating a move – somewhere bigger, smaller, quieter or more convenient, now would be an excellent time to take advantage of the up-swell in demand this spring.
Neil Newstead, FARLA MNAEA MIRPM
Chief Executive Officer