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Despite concerns about a housing market crash last year, the new figures show a sense of confidence among both buyers and sellers.
Sales agreed have seen a notable increase of 13% compared to the same period last year, with Yorkshire and The Humber leading the charge with a 19% rise.
The surge in new sales is said to reflect a growing alignment between buyers and sellers on pricing, a trend that has continued from the previous year. Meanwhile, sellers, in response to market dynamics, have been more willing to adjust their asking prices to attract buyer interest.
Commenting on the latest report, Richard Donnell, Executive Director at Zoopla says:
“It’s a positive start to the year with all key measures of housing activity higher than a year ago. The fall in mortgage rates has led to a rebound in buyer demand and sales following a weaker second half of 2023 when many movers put decisions on hold.
“This improvement in activity will support sales volumes which, at one million, reached an eleven-year low in 2023. We don’t see these trends as a precursor to higher prices in 2024 as it remains a buyer’s market.
“Sellers looking to move should be encouraged by these early signals of activity but buyers remain price sensitive and focused on value for money. Over-optimism by sellers could quickly stall the current improvement in market activity.”
The overall supply of homes for sale has also significantly risen, indicating growing confidence among sellers. The market now boasts a 22% increase in available homes compared to last year, offering buyers a wider range of options.
The moderation of annual house price falls, with the UK average standing at -0.8% at the end of December 2023, further supports the narrative of a stabilising market. While price declines are most pronounced in the East of England, positive annual price growth persists in Scotland, Northern Ireland, and the northern English regions.
The figures also show a resurgence of buyer demand in London, with a 21% increase in new buyer inquiries compared to last year. According to the figures, this surge in demand spans across both inner and outer London, as well as core commuter areas.
However, despite these positive indicators, the market still favours buyers, as sellers occasionally need to adjust asking prices to secure a sale. Zoopla’s research shows that over one in five sellers are still accepting discounts of more than 10% off the asking price, underscoring the continued sensitivity of buyers to value for money.
In summary, while the start of 2024 has been promising for the housing market, with increased activity and growing confidence among buyers and sellers, the market remains sensitive to pricing dynamics.
Sellers are advised to maintain realistic pricing strategies to capitalise on the current momentum, while buyers can expect a market environment that offers ample choice and opportunities for negotiation.
Purchases – Oakwood Property Solicitors
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