The average price of property coming to market has fallen by 0.6% (£2,044) compared to last month, the largest monthly drop since January, according to the Rightmove House Price Index for November 2021.
Rightmove suggested that this price drop will attract buyers over the festive period, prior to a post-Christmas price boom.
The number of people browsing properties on Rightmove during the post-Christmas Day period has increased every year, with visits on Boxing Day 2020 54% higher than the previous year
Agents have reported that many homeowners are preparing their homes in order to sell and get to market.
The number of people beginning the selling process by requesting a valuation from an estate agent via the Rightmove website was 14% higher in October 2021 than the same period last year.
With the current price drop expected to last until Christmas, Rightmove suggested that buyers who have seen their affordability stretched in 2021 might also benefit by securing a fixed-rate mortgage before the widely anticipated interest rate rise.
The national average asking price in November 2021 was found to be £342,401; despite the drop month-on-month, Rightmove found this was a 6.3% annual increase.
Excluding Inner London, first-time buyers face an average price of £211,364, second steppers £314,274 and top of the ladder £624,597; this was a monthly change of +0.3%, -0.4% and -1%, and a yearly change of +5%, +7.7% and +9.6%m respectively.
Rightmove measured 79,337 asking prices this month nationally, circa 95% of the UK market.
The properties were put on sale by estate agents from 10 October to 6 November 2021 and advertised on Rightmove.co.uk.
Tim Bannister, director of property data at Rightmove, said: “Despite the soaring property market and consequent shortage of choice of homes for sale for prospective buyers, new sellers have given buyers an early Christmas present by dropping their average asking prices by 0.6%.
“Sellers who come to market this close to the distractions of Christmas often have a pressing reason to sell, so naturally price more attractively to grab the attention of prospective buyers who may be otherwise occupied.
“We expect this downward price trend to be relatively short-lived, though sellers who are in a hurry will continue to need to attract buyers for most of December as well.
“As soon as Christmas Day is out of the way, there’s a boom in people searching for property on Boxing Day, perhaps with time available during the holiday season and a resolve to enjoy their next Christmas in new surroundings.
“That is likely to push prices higher again, and increase the competition from other buyers. Some of those additional buyers will also be new sellers who have held back from launching their property to market until this Boxing Day buyer boom, judging it to be a good time to sell and to move in 2022.”
Bannister added: “Sellers often wait until January to get their home on the market, but this year agents say that more people are trying to get a head-start on making 2022 their year to move by doing a lot of the prep before the New Year, including having their home ready to market during the Christmas period.
“Some savvy sellers are planning to get their photos taken before they put up their decorations, so that their property advert doesn’t look dated in January.
“Sellers can also agree with their agent a date when viewings can start in January if they’re worried about having time to tidy up after Christmas, which would give the agent time to generate interest in their home.
“Plus, if they’re able to secure a buyer for their home early in the New Year and they are looking to buy again, it puts them in a powerful position to secure their next property.
“In the current market, it’s a real advantage to be a “power buyer”, and have already sold your current home subject to contract when looking for somewhere to buy, putting you ahead when trying to buy another property, where there are other offers already on the table.”
Simon Bradbury, managing director at Thomas Morris Sales & Lettings, said: “With the holiday season coming up fast, sellers planning to enter the market might be tempted to put off beginning the process of putting their home on the market until the New Year.
“However, Boxing Day is historically the start of a busy period of both new sellers coming to market, and a resurgence of prospective buyers browsing properties.
“So, if they wait until January to begin the selling process, they may have missed out on a valuable period of time to attract buyers.
“Sellers would be wise to use this window of opportunity to begin the process of getting their home on the market now, by getting their property valued and speaking to an agent about marketing activity.
“This in turn puts them at the front of the queue, and in a more powerful position to proceed when looking to secure their next home.”
Richard Palfreeman, managing director at Northfields Estate Agency, said: “It is always pleasantly surprising to see how busy we get with serious buyers and investors looking to buy just before Christmas.
“People looking to move to a new home often get caught up with Christmas festivities and pause their search to the New Year, leaving those who are still looking before Christmas able to purchase with less competition.
“We often find in November and December that there are vendors who are motivated to secure a sale, and there are some great bargains to be had for buyers.”