Uncertainty impacting housing market

Michael Lloyd

November 18, 2019

Uncertainty from a Brexit deadline at the end of October and a snap General Election in December have caused the price of new property to drop, the Rightmove House Price Index has found.

The price of property coming to market fell by 1.3% (£3,904) this month, while the number of new sellers dropped by nearly 15%.

Miles Shipside, director and housing market analyst at RightMove, said: “I’ve seen lots of unusual events affecting the property market in my 40-year career, but a Brexit deadline followed by a snap General Election six weeks later is obviously a new combination for me and for many thousands of buyers and sellers.

“Elections normally dampen activity as uncertainty causes a degree of hesitation, but this one is being called to try to break the deadlock after three years of uncertainty.

“A more certain outlook, whatever it may be, would be a welcome change for those who are contemplating moving.”

In contrast, there is positive news for buyers with new seller asking prices 1.3% cheaper than last month and virtually flat year-on-year.

The number of sales agreed remains resilient, just 2.9% lower than a year ago, suggesting that there are still many buyers in the market to take advantage of those opportunities.

Some 14.9% fewer properties have come to market this month compared to the same period a year ago.

This is the largest year-on-year slump in new seller numbers in any month since August 2009.

RightMove said it is possible that some would-be sellers may be waiting to see if whoever wins the election goes on to reform stamp duty and thus reduce their cost of moving.

However, the number of sales agreed nationally has fallen by just 2.9% compared to this time last year, and two regions are up on last year, the North East (4.2%) and Scotland (2.2%).

Shipside added: “Our monthly poll of the housing market shows a clear swing towards hesitation for prospective sellers, leading to buyers losing the extra choice that thousands more newly-marketed properties would bring.

“In spite of this, buyers are continuing with their purchasing plans, with the number of sales agreed only marginally down on a year ago.

“Many buyers are getting on with their lives and making the most of the better negotiating opportunities that the distractions of electioneering and the seasonal slowdown in the run-up to Christmas can bring.”

Larger properties, detached houses with four bedrooms and all types with five or more bedrooms are the most active sales sector at present.

The number of sales agreed for these properties are just down 1.4% compared to last year.

And buyers in this upper-end bracket are also benefitting from new seller asking prices 1.2% cheaper than a year ago.

Shipside said: “With an average price tag of over half a million pounds, those with the money are potentially in the money when it comes to year-on-year savings.

“Properties at the top of the housing ladder have seen new sellers come to market an average of £6,142 cheaper than this time last year.

“If you are buying and selling in the same market, then what you gain on the buying swings you may lose on the selling roundabouts.

“However, it does seem that some would-be buyers who have hung back in this most expensive bracket are now seeing an opportunity to engage.”

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