Positive signs for property market

Positive signs for property market
The property market is enjoying an early Spring bounce according to data from Rightmove, with agreed sales in the first six weeks of the year up 16% compared to the same period last year.

The property website’s latest House Price Index shows that average new seller asking prices rose by 0.9% in February, adding an average of £3,091 to prices and bringing the average cost of a home in the UK to £362,839. The month has also seen a rise in the number of homes available for sale, with a 7% increase in the number of new listings, along with a 7% rise in the number of buyers looking for a property.

Tim Bannister, Director of Property Science at Rightmove, said: “Early-bird Boxing Day buyers got a head start in cherry picking from a record level of new property choice and have now been joined by many other buyers also believing that 2024 offers the right market conditions to move. Mortgage rates have fallen considerably from their peak and are now remaining broadly stable after the uncertainty of late 2022 and 2023.”

The price must be right

The data suggests that momentum is building, but with more choice of property for sale, prospective sellers are advised to consider their pricing carefully.

Although asking prices increased in February, the current market is operating at “two speeds” according to Rightmove, with homes that are priced too ambitiously failing to sell.

It now takes an average seller more than two weeks (16 days) longer to successfully find a buyer than it did during the same period last year. However, competitively priced homes are likely to be snapped up more quickly by buyers.

Cautious optimism

The positive start to the year with higher activity levels and stabilising mortgage rates means that Rightmove is cautiously optimistic about the outlook for the remainder of the year.

“While some would-be buyers will continue to be affected by elevated mortgage rates and major affordability constraints, many other prospective buyers who can afford to do so, have acted fast and demonstrated their belief that 2024 is their year to get moving,” said Mr Bannister.

Rightmove also noted that it’s still early days to predict how 2024 may pan out, especially when there’s a General Election to come. In addition, it suggested that the Budget could even bring new policies to further support movers and first time buyers.

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