THE NUMBER of house hunters registered with estate agents in the UK fell in April and the supply for sale also dropped, according to the latest research.
One reason could be buyers and sellers adopting a brief wait and see attitude ahead of the UK general election this week, says the latest monthly report from the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA).
In March there were 397 house seekers per branch, down from 425 in January and February, but this figure dropped 4%to 381 in April.
Last April amid Brexit uncertainty, the number of house hunters searching for properties was 17% lower at just 325 per member branch.
The data also shows that supply fell in April. In March there were 39 properties available to buy per branch but in April this figure dropped by 8% to just 36 per branch, the lowest level seen since April 2016 when agents had just 35 properties to market, as sellers held off until after the European Union referendum.
The number of sales agreed per branch fell from 10 in March to eight in April, while the proportion of sales made to first time buyers stayed the same at 25%.
The rate of sales agreed above asking price rose to 7% in April from 5% in March. In line with this, the number of properties which were sold for less than the asking price dropped from 75% in March to 72% in April.
“Periods of political uncertainty tend to halt activity in the housing market, and this is exactly what we’re seeing this month. All of the main political parties have outlined significant housing promises in their manifestos and we’d hope to see these policies rolled out in the new Government’s first six to 12 months in Parliament. Buyers and sellers alike are recognising this and adopting a wait and see strategy to decipher how or if the value of their existing or future homes will be affected,” said Mark Hayward, NAEA chief executive.
“However, despite the fact that increasing housing stock is playing a part in the election campaigning, more often than not we find these pledges are unachievable and turn out to be empty promises,” he pointed out.
“It’s therefore important that the market doesn’t totally stall as this could trigger an unintended domino effect, which we could still feel the effect of years later before supply increases. A business as usual approach will ensure house hunters are met with a healthy supply of properties to view, and sellers get a fair price and a good buyer,” he added.