Housing market ‘buoyant’ despite living cost pressure: Propertymark

The housing market remained “buoyant” over the last two months with 78 per cent of estate agents saying most sales in May were agreed at or above the original asking price despite the rising cost of living crisis, according to Propertymark.

There were nine sales agreed on average per member branch in May – the same number as in April, says the estate agent’s body, which has 18,000 members who run 12,000 offices across the country.

This figure is in line with the pre-pandemic average for May of nine, based on figures dating from 2010 to 2019.

The body’s May survey adds that the average number of new potential buyers registering at each member branch remained high at 90.

It says: “Despite recent murmurings of an impending slowdown in the property market, figures our agents reported for May appear to show the buoyant market continues.”

However, earlier this week inflation edged up to 9.1% in the 12 months to May, with prices continuing to rise at their fastest rate in 40 years driven by food and energy costs, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Also, the UK economy contracted by 0.3% in April after it shrank by 0.1% in March, the ONS said last week. Many economists forecast the UK economy will slip into a recession over the next 12 months.

But Propertymark’s May survey says: “With such high demand, we may expect sales to be higher. But the lack of supply appears to be keeping the total sales figures in check.”

The average number of properties for sale per member branch in May was 22—in line with the average of the previous three months, says the report. It adds these numbers remain low compared to the pre-pandemic average for May of 50, again based on figures dating from 2010 to 2019.

It adds that the average exchange times remain lengthy, with 67% of agents saying that the average time from an offer being accepted to exchanging contracts in May was 13 weeks or more. This compares to a 2019 average of only 52%.

Propertymark chief executive Nathan Emerson says: “Despite a continued rise in the cost of living, interest rate rises, and the average price of a home in the UK falling just shy of £300,000, agents continue to report a strong, stable market.

“Due to other potential interest rate rises in the future, buyers are snapping up properties quickly and taking advantage of current mortgage rates. We expect these pressures to start to slow the housing market down but there are no signs of that happening any time soon.”

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