by Mark Johnston
The troubled UK housing market has left thousands of unsold properties up and down the UK. The number of homes on estate agents books are at their highest levels for the last two years sparking concern by a number of leading industry experts that the market may be in turmoil.
Hundreds of new sellers have entered the market, whilst it’s still not clear as to whether these are struggling home owners looking to get out of the market by selling up or home movers who have been biding their time and now think that the time has come to sell up and purchase their next dream home.
Back in May the average number of properties at each estate agency was 68, this has steadily climbed to 74 in June and is set to climb further if the market stays as it is. The data published by the National Association of Estate Agents shows that home owners are becoming increasingly confident that they will be able to sell their home so more and more are going onto the market.
Surprisingly the number of sales per branch have been increasing even though stocks of properties are at their highest level since way back in April 2009. Over the past few months, the number of sales per branch has risen from eight per month to nine.
Wendy Evans-Scott, president from the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) said ” increased stock offers a wider choice of properties to pick from, but she conceded the problems of getting a mortgage, especially for first-time buyers, means demand remains subdued”
Industry insiders are concerned that sales may slow down, as the number of registered buyers at each estate agency has been following over the last few months from 275 to 263. When compared to this time last year the figures have fallen from 279 to 263.
Data from leading property website rightmove.co.uk, suggested that home owner asking prices had fallen for the first time this month since the start of 2011 whilst the total number of homes for sale increased. The property website which also tracks house prices via the homes advertised on their site highlighted that asking prices had dropped slighted as the average price of a home in the UK dropped to £236,597 which is around 1.6%.
The research suggests that the problem the drops in the market vary region by region but a consistent pattern is starting to emerge.
The NAEA regional executives for the north, Richard Horner said “although lenders say they have eased their criteria this is not evident currently, while even in the more buoyant south east agents say mortgage availability is patchy”
There has been some evidence that estate agents have overvalued some homes to try and attract sellers to register their home and get them onto their books but this is not currently widespread.
The biggest impact is still the lack of first time buyers as lenders are still restricting what they are borrowing to only the most credit trustworthy customers. Last month the number of first time buyers fell a massive 20% from the previous month. Industry insiders are now publicly suggesting that lenders need to start to lend more and relax their criteria to bump start the market.
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