Source: Property Wire
The number of sales agreed in the UK rose to a 10 year high in February but sales to first time buyers fell, according to the latest figures from estate agents.
The data from the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) shows that transactions increased to 11 per branch and the last time this figure surpassed 10 per branch was in September 2007.
The NAEA says it is an indication that buyer confidence is growing as it is up from eight sales per branch in January and six per branch in December 2016.
The figures also show that while there were higher sales in February, some 74% were below the original asking price suggesting sellers are taking a pragmatic approach to their property transactions.
But fewer first time buyers were active with the proportion of sales which were agreed for them falling to 22% in February from 30% in January.
Meanwhile, supply has increased with more properties coming onto the market. The number of properties available to buy on estate agents’ books increased to 44 in February, up from 38 in January. But this is up 26% from a year ago when agents had just 35 properties available per branch.
Demand for properties was unchanged with the number of house buyers registered per member branch at 425 for the second month in a row.
The NAEA asked its members about the recently published Government housing white paper and found that 43% don’t believe it will make a difference while 39% think the proposals could positively impact the market but can’t yet tell how.
‘The number of sales agreed reaching a 10 year high indicates the housing market is moving in the right direction. However, first time buyers need to be a priority as the number of sales made to the group dipped in February when it should be growing,’ said Mark Hayward, NAEA chief executive.
‘As house prices continue to rise, the market’s most vulnerable buyers are being priced out and the only way to address this is to increase housing stock. The Government have pledged yet again to build more homes, but our members aren’t feeling optimistic about the plans,’ he pointed out.
‘If promises are kept and we see construction sites set up across the UK, we’ll be in a better position in a few years than the stark reality we will be facing if this doesn’t happen,’ he added.