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House sales hit 10-year high but FTB suffer

House sales hit 10-year high but FTB suffer

The number of house sales has reached a ten-year high as buyer confidence continues to grow.

Figures from the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) Propertymark reveal the number of sales agreed rose to a 10-year high in February, to 11 per branch - the highest since September 2007.

Some 74 per cent of sales made were below the original asking price, suggesting sellers are taking a pragmatic approach to their property transactions.

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The number of properties available to buy on estate agents’ books increased to 44 in February from 38 the previous month, but demand remained very high with 425 house buyers registered per member branch for the second month in a row.

While the overall sales figures are encouraging, the number of first-time buyer transactions dropped to 22 per cent in February - down from 30 per cent in January.

And there is widespread scepticism regarding the government’s housing white paper, with only seven per cent of estate agents believing the proposed remedies will be enough to ‘fix’ the housing market.

Two fifths (43 per cent) do not think the white paper will make a difference, while 39 per cent think the proposals could positively impact the market but can’t yet tell how.

Mark Hayward, chief executive, NAEA Propertymark, said: “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 - the number of sales made to the group dipped in February when it should be growing. 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. 

Adrian Kidd, IFA at Unleash Advice Partnership in Lee, south-east London, commented: “I would say there is a lot of conflicting data. The last couple of years have been good for first-time buyers, primarily because of help from parents and help to buy schemes, which have helped people get onto the ladder.

“In terms of mortgage approvals, it is fairly consistent. I think mortgage approvals are a bit down for the month, but we are at the start of the year, and the first quarter is one of the slow ones.

“The one thing I have read that is not conflicting is people are worried about putting houses up for sale, so there is less stock out there. 

“If buyer numbers per property are to be believed, we have got people who are ready to do something and they will do it. I think from a price perspective we will have a reasonable year because there is less stock on the market and a reticence from sellers.”

According to figures from Nationwide published today (31 March), the rate of growth in the British housing market shrank this month, as the number of people owning their own home dropped to its lowest level in more than three decades.