Rightmove is this morning reporting a huge fall in the number of new sellers coming to the market - a drop of almost 15 per cent on this time last year.
This is the largest year-on-year slump in new seller numbers in any month since August 2009.
The portal makes clear where the fault lies: what it calls “the unique autumn combination” of Brexit and a General Election.
Today’s market report by the portal says: “These circumstances have proved to be a negative factor for thousands of prospective sellers, who have postponed their marketing plans.”
To add to the woe of the remaining sellers in the market, asking prices for properties that have gone on sale in the past four weeks have dropped by an average of 1.3 per cent. This brings “winter bargain-hunting opportunities” says Rightmove.
The number of sales agreed remains resilient, just 2.9 per cent lower than a year ago, suggesting buyers are so far less deterred than sellers.
Miles Shipside, Rightmove director and housing market analyst, comments: “I’ve seen lots of unusual events affecting the property market in my 40-year career, but a Brexit deadline followed by a snap general election six weeks later is obviously a new combination for me and for many thousands of buyers and sellers.
“Elections normally dampen activity as uncertainty causes a degree of hesitation, but this one is being called to try to break the deadlock after three years of uncertainty. A more certain outlook, whatever it may be, would be a welcome change for those who are contemplating moving.”
Referring to the 14.9 per cent fewer properties that have come to market this month compared to the same period a year ago, Rightmove says it’s possible that some of the vendors sitting on their hands may be waiting to see if stamp duty reform after the election might reduce their costs of moving.
And the portal warns that if this reluctance to sell continues into next year’s spring selling season, the lack of new sellers will have knock-on effects throughout 2020, potentially reducing housing market activity.
Larger properties - that is, detached houses with four bedrooms, and all types with five or more bedrooms - are the most active sales sector at present, with the number of sales agreed just 1.4 per cent down compared to last year. Buyers in this upper-end bracket are also benefitting from new seller asking prices 1.2 per cent cheaper than a year ago.
Shipside adds: “With an average price tag of over half a million pounds, those with the money are potentially in the money when it comes to year-on-year savings. Properties at the top of the housing ladder have seen new sellers come to market an average of £6,142 cheaper than this time last year. If you are buying and selling in the same market, then what you gain on the buying swings you may lose on the selling roundabouts. However, it does seem that some would-be buyers who have hung back in this most expensive bracket are now seeing an opportunity to engage.”