House hunters flood the market at start of year

Demand from prospective house-hunters increased by more than a third (37 per cent), nationally, during January, newly released figures reveal.

The January Housing Report by NAEA Propertymark shows the New Year began with a boom for the housing market, as demand for new homes soared. In December, 2017, agents registered 268 per branch, compared to 367 in January. This is the highest figure since September 2017, when there were 394 registered per estate agent branch.

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In line with rising demand, January saw an influx of sellers marketing their properties – the supply of available properties increased to 36 per branch on average, from 33 in December.

Sales to first-time buyers (FTBs). Earlier this month, UK Finance reported that sales to first time buyers in 2017 were higher than any other year since the financial crisis. However, increased competition moving into 2018 looks to be affecting the group with sales falling to 27 per cent in January, from 32 per cent in December.

Mark Hayward, chief executive, NAEA Propertymark said: “As we usually see in January, buyers and sellers have re-entered the market after the festive slow-down and triggered an uplift in the number of sales agreed.

"While this is good news for the market generally, the increased competition seems to have affected FTBs, who generally have less bargaining power when it comes to bidding for properties.

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“Our members have noticed FTBs holding off on making purchases typically outside of London, and saving for longer to maximise the full stamp duty relief.

"They’re skipping the ‘first time home’ and moving straight onto their second homes, to avoid growing out of their property in four or five years and facing the cost of stamp duty. This is a smart move and an example of how FTBs are making legislation work to their advantage.”

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