Buyers taking their first step on the housing ladder accounted for 29 per cent of all sales in September, compared to 20 per cent in August, according to the National Association of Estate Agents latest market report.
However, the number of house-hunters registered per estate agent branch dropped in September, following a period of high and, what the NAEA described as, unsustainable demand in July and August.
On average, there were 342 prospective buyers registered at each NAEA member branch in September, down 16 per cent from the 408 recorded in August and a 26 per cent drop from July, when demand reached an eleven year high of 462 house-hunters per branch on average.
The number of properties available to buy dropped marginally to 37 per member branch in September, following a fall in the availability of housing stock the month before, when the number of properties available fell 31 per cent from 55 in July to 38 in August.
Mark Hayward, managing director of the NAEA, said members saw an average nine sales going through per branch in September, backed by a range of new mortgage products coming on to the market, which is likely to be encouraging ‘first steppers’, alongside the impending interest rate rise being pushed back to next year at the very earliest.
“However, in order to ensure there is enough affordable housing on the market for FTBs, we need the issue of supply and demand to be addressed in a big way. Until substantial numbers of new houses are built, we won’t see every FTB reach the bottom rung of the ladder.”
He argued that if supply and demand could just meet in the middle, the housing market would be functional again.
“The introduction of the Housing and Planning Bill – announced last week – is good news however,” said Mr Hayward. “Nonetheless it’s really important that in urban areas, replacement properties are built within the same local authority boundaries as the original homes that were sold, so that stock is replenished evenly across city regions.”
Demand dropped 16 per cent this month, with first-time-buyers making up a larger proportion of sales, which indicates that the market is on the road to recovery, but he added that this still is not enough. “Even with the promises outlined in the Housing and Planning Bill, there are still nine house-hunters fighting for each property and new housing just isn’t being built quickly enough.”