First time buyers capitalised on the typical December housing slump at the end of last year, according to the latest Housing Report from NAEA Propertymark (the National Association of Estate Agents).
First time buyers
Overall, demand for housing dropped by 20% in December, with an average of 268 prospective homeowners registered per member branch – down from 333 in November.
Echoing this, the number of sales agreed per estate agent branch fell to an average of five – the lowest since December 2014, when there were also five agreed, and down from seven in November.
However, first time buyers took it upon themselves to take advantage of the quieter month, as the percentage of sales made to the group increased to 32%. This is the highest rate seen since September 2016, when it stood at 32% again, and up from 27% in November.
The supply of available properties remained fairly stagnant in December, falling by just one to an average of 33 per branch. This is down by 20% on December 2016, when agents were typically marketing 41 properties per branch.
The time taken between offers being accepted and exchanging contracts reduced marginally in December. 4% of sales went through in under four weeks, compared to an average of 1% from January to November 2016.
The percentage of transactions that took longer than 17 weeks to exchange fell in line with this, from 7% in November to just 4% last month.
Mark Hayward, the Chief Executive of NAEA Propertymark, comments on the report: “We see this year in, year out. Buyers take a backseat in December to enjoy the festivities, while sellers keep their homes on the market in the hope that someone will take interest and make an offer.
“What we don’t usually see is first time buyers capitalising on this slump and using it to their advantage – 44% of our members think that the Chancellor’s Stamp Duty cut for first time buyers will encourage more to make offers, and it looks like that’s what we’re starting to see. Hopefully, this enthusiasm won’t falter when the second and third time buyers come back onto the market in the New Year and competition hots up again.”