Summertime and the market is far from easy

Matthew Cumber

June 7, 2021

Matthew Cumber is managing director of Countrywide Surveying Services

It’s summertime and the housing market remains far from easy, well for some borrowers, surveyors and conveyancers at least. In fairness, surveyors and conveyancers are facing far fewer obstacles than many borrowers, with the main ones concentrated around volume and capacity. Not that we can complain about this, especially when we look back and think about what could have been.

A vibrant housing market continues to play a critical role in the UK’s economic recovery and this vibrancy was evident in Propertymark’s latest Housing Market Report for April 2021 which showed that one in three properties (32%) sold for more than the original asking price, the highest figure on record. A figure much higher than the previous record of 19% in May 2014.

The average number of house hunters registered per estate agent branch was said to be 427, an increase from 409 in March and the highest April figure since 2004 when there were 487 house hunters for each branch. To coincide with this increased demand, the report showed that the number of properties available per NAEA Propertymark member branch fell from 31 in March to 27. Meaning there is an average of 16 buyers for every available property on the market.

Demand from a variety of homebuyers continues to stoke the housing market fire and, when combined with limited housing stock, it’s little wonder that prices continue to rise across the UK. Addressing the affordable housing supply problem was raised in the recent Planning Bill but any positive steps will inevitably take time, leaving many homebuyers frustrated, even though lending levels remain high.

Having said this, according to the latest Money & Credit figures from the Bank of England, mortgage borrowing fell in April with individuals borrowing an additional £3.3 billion, following a record £11.5 billion in March. This was also lower than the £5.7 billion monthly average borrowed in the six months to February 2021.

Despite weaker net lending, both gross lending and repayments remain above levels seen since the start of 2020. The Bank says the recent variability is likely to reflect the reduction in the stamp duty tax, which was initially expected to end in March, but has now been extended to the end of June. I can only agree with this sentiment and – from activity levels we’ve experienced in more recent times – I think we can simply put this down as a slight correction and bear in mind that some statistics don’t always tell the full story.

The housing market will continue to heat up as, hopefully, we get back to some kind of normality – whatever normality even means now. From a Countrywide Surveying Services perspective, it’s all about servicing the ongoing needs of our lending partners and clients whilst ensuring our people remain safe in the office and out in the field. We’re also stepping up our recruitment process in a sustained bid to attract new talent into the industry, meaning we are gearing ourselves up for a busy summer.

We look forward to the challenge ahead.

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