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Average prices rising in north and falling in south, says Rightmove

The average price of property coming to the market for sale fell by just £21 this month (0.0%) to £375,110, as prices in June follow the same seasonal pattern as recent years and remain flat after reaching a record in May. 

Rightmove data shows that price trends differ across Great Britain, and the strongest price growth this month is occurring in the less expensive and more northerly regions, with five of the six cheapest areas reaching new price records. By contrast, the higher-priced East of England and London regions lag and see this month’s only regional price falls. 

Now that a General Election has been called, Rightmove’s whole-of-market data and a poll of over 14,000 home-movers suggest that activity is largely remaining stable, with the market maintaining its 2024 momentum. The number of sales being agreed and the number of buyers sending enquiries to agents remain steady, with the vast majority of those already in the home-moving market continuing with their plans. One exception is possible election caution among some would-be sellers, which is most pronounced for those at the typically more discretionary top end of the market, some of whom appear to be pausing their plans to see how the next few weeks unfold. 

Tim Bannister at Rightmove says: “It’s always difficult to predict how home-movers will react to sudden uncertainty, but looking back through our data, we can see that during previous election campaigns, market activity has remained largely steady. This election has followed a similar pattern so far, and the responses from our poll of over 14,000 people also supports the data, with the vast majority of respondents saying they will carry on with their home-moving plans. However, some potential sellers appear to be watching and waiting rather than taking action, evidenced by a dip in the number of new sellers coming to market, particularly at the top-end. This is understandable when many of these sellers have more flexibility over when they act, but overall, it appears to be business as usual for the mass-market.” 

Pent-up demand is a key driver behind increased buyer and seller activity, despite mortgage rates remaining elevated for longer than anticipated. In the first four months of the year, the number of sales being agreed between buyers and sellers is 17% higher than in the same period in 2023, outstripping the 12% increase in the number of new sellers coming to market. 

Like pricing activity, these trends are being driven most by the top-of-the-ladder sector, made up of four bedroom detached and five bedroom plus properties. A lack of available homes for sale in this sector during the pandemic years, together with the rapid rise, and subsequent volatility of mortgage rates in the post-mini-Budget period, meant that activity in this sector was particularly susceptible to some potential movers taking a step back. Now, with mortgage rates more stable albeit still high, and greater buyer choice, many who had postponed their moving plans in this sector appear to be returning, says Rightmove. 

The firm reports: ‘We anticipate the number of completed sales transactions this year to reach around 1.1m. Rightmove’s key lead indicators, powered by the UK’s largest selection of properties for sale and real-time data, suggest positive progress towards reaching this number of transactions. However, the lengthy time to complete a sale after finding a buyer remains a challenge for both agents and movers. The average time between agreeing a sale and legal completion is a painful five months, or 154 days. In total, it is taking over seven months on average from a seller coming to market to completing their move, meaning that as early as it may seem, would-be sellers hoping to celebrate Christmas in a new home need to be coming to the market about now.’ 

The sluggish completion process in England is something that parliament is reviewing as part of its inquiry into improving the home buying and selling process. When compared with international markets, England’s average completion times are significantly slower, highlighting the substantial room for improvement. The creation of a more seamless process, which includes providing more accurate information about a home earlier to potential buyers, and better connecting the parties involved in the transacting process through technology, are two areas of improvement that Rightmove suggests would be most beneficial to movers. 

Rightmove adds that it takes on average 32 day for a sale to be agreed for a property that is priced right from the outset, less than a third of the 112 days that it takes if the home requires an asking price reduction before it has found a buyer. 

However, the firm’s data also shows that the average number of listings per estate agent (including under offer/sold subject to contract) is now at 59, which is a 12-month high and around 20% higher than in May 2023 (49). 

Responding to the latest Rightmove data, Chris Baguley, Group Channel Development Director at finance provider Together, said: “The housing market continues to strengthen, with the overall number of agreed sales up 6% and new buyer enquiries 5% higher compared to a year ago. With the announcements in last week’s party manifestos; buyers, sellers, investors and developers will be weighing up each side’s housing policies ahead of the July outcome. For first-time buyers, the scrapping of stamp duty could well be a huge boost to them taking their first steps onto the property ladder. 

“House building and development will continue to be a key priority in the next few weeks - with a focus on repurposing brownfield land. With our research finding nearly a fifth (19%) of property professionals wanting more government support for brownfield development, it’s promising to see this recognised - but now is the time for real action.”

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