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May Housing Report: Demand, availability and asking prices

The NAEA Propertymark (National Association of Estate Agents) has released its May Housing Report, giving an overview of the market during somewhat uncertain times.

Just a small proportion of UK properties are currently selling for more than their asking price whilst demand remained steady, new figures have shown.

UK property buyers are becoming more efficient

The key points of the report are:

  • Demand from prospective buyers has risen by 15 per cent since May 2016, when 304 were registered per branch.
  • The number of properties available to buy rose by 11 per cent last month to 40 per branch.
  • This is slightly higher than May 2016 when 37 properties were available to buy per branch.
  • The number of sales agreed per branch rose from eight in April to 10 in May – the same level seen in March.
  • Only three per cent of properties sold for more than asking price in May, down four percentage points from April and the lowest level since October
  • The number of homes which sold for less than asking price rose to 77 per cent last month – up five percentage points from April.
  • The number of house hunters registered per estate agent branch fell by eight per cent last month – from 381 in April to 350 in May. This is unsurprising as political uncertainty ahead of the General Election stalled buyers’ plans.

Mark Hayward, Chief Executive, NAEA Propertymark said: “As a rule of thumb, periods of political uncertainty impact the way buyers and sellers interact with the housing market. In May, it looks like new buyers were stalling their house search until after the election; however the Number of sales agreed per branch increased meaning the political landscape hasn’t deterred all house hunters. Following the result of the general election, it will be interesting to see how the market reacts over the coming months as summer is peak house-moving season.”

Meanwhile, news emerged that UK households are putting away ever-smaller amounts of their earnings as higher prices and sluggish wages squeeze household finances.

Deposits only rose by 2.6pc in the 12 months to May, the joint-weakest pace since the depths of the financial crisis in 2011, according to the British Bankers’ Association.

Savings levels dropped in May alone, with personal deposits falling by £4.9bn, and ISA savings down £741m. However those monthly numbers can be volatile.

At the end of 2016 Britons were saving an average of 3.3pc of their incomes, the lowest rate in the Office for National Statistics’ records, which go back to the 1960s.

Asking prices up across the UK – especially in the North

However some economists argue that the number may overstate the true picture, as homeowners have been pumping more of their income into overpayments on their mortgages, indicating that they are saving into their homes rather than into their bank accounts.

Borrowing on credit cards is rising but at a slower pace as households paid off as much as they spent on the plastic in the month.

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May Housing Report: Demand, availability and asking prices


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