Data from NAEA Propertymark suggests there were 20 per cent fewer buyers in January this year than in the same month of 2018 as the market waits for greater economic and political certainty.
The number of house hunters registered per estate agent branch fell from 304 in December 2018, to 297 in January 2019.
Year-on-year, demand has fallen by almost a fifth from 367 in January 2018 “as buyers hold off on making any decisions, in light of the current political climate” according to the NAEA.
Meanwhile the supply of housing fell by 14 per cent in January, from 42 in December to 36 per member branch - this is the same figure as January 2018.
One piece of good news is that first time buyers appear to have taken advantage of weakened demand, as the number of sales made to the group increased for the second month running, from 24 per cent in December, to 26 per cent in January.
Following a dip in the number of sales agreed per branch over the last few months, this figure increased in January, from an average of five per branch in December, to seven.
Year-on-year the number of sales agreed per branch remained the same.
“January is usually the time where we’d expect to see house hunters flood the market following the festive lull; however, this didn’t happen. It’s normal that during a period of uncertainty, buyers put their plans on hold, and until there’s further clarity on what Brexit will mean for the market, we expect the level of house buyers to remain stagnant” explains Mark Hayward, NAEA Propertymark chief executive.
“However, it’s clear that people still want to sell their homes, and there are properties available for those looking to move. While first time buyers are taking advantage of this situation, those hoping to secure a property may well find the market is leaning in their favour, as the number of sales agreed per branch return to the level seen at the start of 2018.
“Although sellers are usually keen to hold off until they secure the ‘right price’, when the market is slow, they are typically more willing to negotiate. After all, when demand falls, and supply remains the same, it’s a buyers’ market.”