If you’re looking to move right now, you’ll know there’s been lots of news about the property market, from rising interest rates, to what might happen to house prices.
With our up-to-date housing market data, we’re able to spot changes in the home-moving market as they happen. And this month, we’ve seen that the number of home-sellers accepting offers from buyers has returned to the same level we saw before in 2019, before the pandemic began.
We’re comparing what’s happening now with the same period in 2019 because it gives an idea of what you could expect from a more ‘normal’ property market: before the start of the pandemic, and the exceptionally busy property market we saw at the beginning of last year.
2022 was a year of two halves for the property market. At the start of the year, homes were selling faster than ever at record prices, and there were lots more people looking to move than there were homes for sale.
But fast forward six months, and things started to change. We saw the market settle into a calmer, steadier pace, and buyer demand for homes easing slightly. But all of these things were accelerated after September’s mini-budget announcement, which created uncertainty in the financial markets, causing sharp and sudden rises in mortgage rates. And some home-buyers who were keen to move decided to pause their plans.
But now, for the first time since September last year, the number of homes marked ‘sale agreed’ has returned to pre-pandemic levels.
Our property expert, Tim Bannister, says: “The housing market is remaining surprisingly robust given the economic factors that have affected home-movers over the last six months. While the market is not moving at the exceptional pace that it has been over the last couple of years, it’s a positive sign that sales at a national level are being agreed at the same rate as the last more normal market of 2019, though there are regional differences across Great Britain.”
Home-movers are returning to London
During the pandemic, lots of people looked to move to the coast and rural areas, to access more green space, or to be closer to the seaside. We’ve seen a reversal of that trend in recent months, with people looking to return to cities.
Much of the increase in sales agreed we’ve seen in recent weeks has been on flats, particularly in London. Across all property types, they’re up by 11% when compared to March 2019. Sales agreed on flats alone in the capital are up 23%, compared to the same period in 2019.
And there are three other regions of Great Britain that have also seen more home sales agreed when compared to 2019. These areas include the North East (+5%), Scotland (+2%), and the South East (+2%). In the South West, sales agreed are at the same levels seen during the same period in 2019.
You can also find out how long it’s currently taking to sell a home, on average, and where homes are selling the fastest right now.
And what’s happening with mortgage rates?
Despite interest rates rising to the highest level in 14 years, the increase hasn’t fed through to mortgage rates recently, which have been starting to edge down in the past few months. The average 5-year fixed rate for a home-buyer with a 15% deposit was as high as 5.89% in October, but in March this reduced to 4.63%. You can read more here about the current average UK mortgage rates, and what they could mean if you’re thinking of buying a home.
So, what does this mean if you’re thinking of moving?
If you’re thinking of selling your home, it’s important to price it right the first time to give yourself the best chance of finding a buyer quickly, as you’ll be less likely to have to reduce your asking price later.
“Pricing right the first time can often lead to a quicker sale, so it’s important for sellers to speak to an agent about their local market so that they price realistically and give themselves the best chance of finding a buyer,” says Tim.