Zoopla reports a rebound in the housing sales market

Zoopla reports a rebound in the housing sales market

0:02 AM, 29th January 2024, About 4 months ago

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Zoopla has revealed that the housing sales market has improved in 2024, despite a drop in prices last year.

According to its House Price Index, annual UK house price falls have moderated again and stand at -0.8%, to the end of December, which is an improvement from the -1.4% low recorded in October 2023.

House price falls are greatest in the East of England (-2.5%), while annual price growth is still positive across Scotland, Northern Ireland and the three northern English regions.

‘It’s a positive start to the year’

Richard Donnell, an executive director at Zoopla, said: “It’s a positive start to the year with all key measures of housing activity higher than a year ago.

“The fall in mortgage rates has led to a rebound in buyer demand and sales following a weaker second half of 2023 when many movers put decisions on hold.

“This improvement in activity will support sales volumes which, at one million, reached an 11 year low in 2023.”

He added: “We don’t see these trends as a precursor to higher prices in 2024 as it remains a buyer’s market.

“Sellers looking to move should be encouraged by these early signals of activity but buyers remain price sensitive and focused on value for money.

“Over-optimism by sellers could quickly stall the current improvement in market activity.”

Sales agreed are up

Zoopla also reports that sales agreed – which is a key measure of market confidence and activity – are up across all regions and countries of the UK in the first three weeks of 2024.

New sales agreed are up across all regions and countries of the UK averaging a 13% increase in comparison to this time last year.

Yorkshire and The Humber (+19%) and the West Midlands (+17%) are leading the improvement in new sales.

This is evidence that buyers and sellers are becoming more aligned on pricing.

Sellers cutting asking prices

One key trend over 2023 was sellers cutting asking prices to attract buyer interest – and this has continued into 2024.

The overall supply of homes for sale is also growing – indicating more confidence among sellers.

The supply is 22% higher than last year, while the average estate agent has 28 homes for sale, boosting choice for buyers.

Zoopla says that the higher levels of sales activity in early 2024, following on from the final weeks of 2023, are evidence of greater alignment between buyers and sellers on pricing.

It points out that there is less need for sellers to drop house prices much further to support sales.

‘Some real positives for sellers’

Sarah Coles, the head of personal finance at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “The arrival of a new year, along with a clutch of cheaper mortgages, breathed some life back into the property market. There are some real positives for sellers to take comfort from, but they can’t afford to get carried away.

“We also saw a flood of properties onto the market, so buyers can still afford to be choosy.

“It means homes have to be priced realistically and sellers should still be prepared to accept an offer.”

She added: “At the moment, a fifth of sellers are accepting an offer of 10% below asking price.

“Overall, this is helping depress prices, which are still lower than they were a year earlier.”

Matt Thompson, the head of sales at Chestertons, said: “2024 started with a busy property market as buyers have been motivated to either commence or finalise their property search.

“The increasing availability of more affordable mortgage deals thereby plays a key role and will likely continue to fuel a surge in buyer activity over the coming weeks.”

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