The number of homes for sale has hit a 15-year low, estate agents claim. Meanwhile Nationwide this morning claimed that house prices had fallen for a second consecutive month – although this was on a ‘seasonally adjusted’ basis. Without seasonal adjustment, house prices actually crept up to stand at £207,699 in April, copared with £207,308 in March.
The startling figure from the NAEA Propertymark Housing Report for March is somewhat tempered by the relatively small sample size of just 554 branches who responded to the survey.
Additionally, there is no regional breakdown among agents.
The report found that the number of properties available to buy on member estate agents’ books decreased to 39 in March from 44 in February.
This figure is the lowest amount recorded for March since the trade body started recording the data in September 2002.
Agents had 54 properties available to market in March 2016.
The number of buyers registered per member branch also fell, according to the report, from 425 in February to 397 last month.
In March last year there were 417 prospective buyers registered per branch, meaning demand has fallen by 5% year-on-year.
There was some good news in the first-time buyer market where the proportion of sales rose to 25%, after falling from 30% to 22% between January and February.
However, overall the average number of sales agreed decreased in March to ten per branch from a record high of 11 in February.
Mark Hayward, chief executive of NAEA Propertymark, said: “There are currently ten house-hunters chasing each available property, and with supply at the lowest level for March since records began, building more homes to satisfy demand needs to be a priority.
“In line with this, while sales to first-time buyers rose slightly in March, they’re still much lower than the levels seen in the last three months of 2016 which is cause for concern.
“The upcoming General Election is a good opportunity for each Party to outline their plans for tackling the housing crisis.
“We hope to see it prioritised so we can make the market a better place once and for all.”
Nationwide economist Robert Gardner said of the ‘seasonally adjusted’ monthly fall in house prices of 0.4% that it could be an indication of a squeeze in incomes.
He said that this, together with mounting housing affordability pressures, “is likely to exert a drag on activity and house price growth in the quarters ahead.”