The supply of available housing on sale has almost halved in the past 10 years according to the National Association of Estate Agents.
The average number of properties available per member branch in December 2015 fell to 37 properties. This was one of the lowest monthly figures for 2015 and almost half the number available in December 2005 when there were an average 72 houses per branch.
Even as recently as December 2014 there were 45 houses available.
While the number of house hunters registered per branch fell to 374 in December from 403 last month - an expected seasonal trend - the number of house hunters per branch has gradually increased year on year.
In December 2014, there were 360 potential buyers registered at each branch, up from 302 in December 2005.
“Whilst we expect figures for supply and demand to be seasonally low in December, the year 2015 overall does not paint a positive picture for the housing market. Supply of housing is half of what it was 10 years ago, yet the number of home buyers on the books has been gradually increasing. When there is such a huge and widening gap between supply and demand, a level playing field seems further out of reach for many would be house buyers” says NAEA managing director Mark Hayward.
He says government efforts to help first time buyers enter the property market via Help to Buy and plans to build new starter homes are yet to take effect. The number of sales to FTBs stands at 24 per cent, a two per cent drop from December 2014.
Some 44 per cent of NAEA member agents canvassed have reported seeing buyers seeking to beat the April 1 additional homes stamp duty surcharge deadline.
“The issue of lack of supply needs to be solved, but it isn’t going to be done anytime soon. We are still waiting to see new homes being built; and whilst we wait, house prices continue to rise. There is some potential light for first time buyers however, once the new tax rate increase in April is in place we may see less investment from buy-to-let or second home investors, which may mean less competition for first time buyers” says Hayward.