Estate agents reported a large drop in demand for housing in April, with the number of house-hunters registered per branch at the lowest level since March 2014, according to the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) April Housing Market report.
There were 325 house hunters registered per member branch on average last month – the lowest number recorded since March 2014, when there were 313 house buyers recorded at each estate agent branch. This means demand has decreased by a fifth (22 per cent) from 417 in March.
Last month, the supply of houses available for buyers also decreased by a third (35 per cent) – from 54 properties available in March, to 35 in April.
First time buyers
One in four (26 per cent) of the total sales made in April were to FTBs, a decrease of two percentage points from March. However, one in three (33 per cent) estate agents expects sales to the group to increase following the buy-to-let stamp duty changes, as buy-to-let landlords exit the market, potentially freeing up properties for FTBs.
One in four (24 per cent) estate agents expect house prices to decrease and a further one in four (23 per cent) expect demand to decrease if Britain votes to leave the EU in June. The recent NAEA and ARLA Brexit report revealed that by 2018, a Brexit would reduce the average UK house price by £2,300 to £300,900. However, if Britain remains in the EU, the average UK home could cost £303,000 by 2018.
Mark Hayward, managing director, National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), comments: “It’s no surprise that demand dropped significantly in April. Eight in ten (80 per cent) agents saw an increase in purchasers trying to beat the buy-to-let stamp duty changes before the April 1st deadline, so we expected to see a slow-down immediately following the deadline.
“Whilst the number of house-hunters registered per branch dropped in April, the supply of available housing to buy also fell quite sharply, so supply and demand are still moving in the opposite direction, rather than balancing out.
“Additionally, the upcoming EU Referendum means we’ve entered a period of uncertainty, as buyers put off their hunt in anticipation of the result, and what might happen to prices as a result.”