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Housing Market: supply shortage for fifth month in a row

Another market snapshot has identified low supply as the chief characteristic of the sales landscape this autumn.

Landmark Information Group’s latest Property Trends Report has identified a fifth consecutive month of low property supply levels, with new listings reporting lower numbers than pre-pandemic figures in 2019.

The report, covering England and Wales for the past three months, shows that listings were down by an average of nine per cent compared to 2019 data, while demand continued to outpace supply, maintaining a sustained imbalance in the market. 

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Completions peaked at 44 per cent up in September this year (ahead of the stamp duty holiday end) versus September 2019, although the previous two months both recorded fewer completions compared to the prior two years. 

LIG says: “This has been a rollercoaster period for property lawyers and conveyancers as they navigate the various SDLT holiday deadlines and consequential activity peaks.”

In more detail, the report says: 

Property Listings: Last quarter, new property listings were down every month when compared to the same period in 2019: down six per cent in July, down 13 per cent in August and down eight per cent in September, even though demand has remained steady. “Unless a rebalance occurs, there is the potential to see stock levels continue to decrease as we head towards the end of the year, which could continue to affect house prices.”

Sold Subject to Contract: For properties converting to Sold Subject to Contract, the data was relatively stable compared to previous quarters with a gradual trend that moved closer to the SSTC data from 2019 from month to month: July reported a nine per cent decrease, August seven per cent down and September a one per cent difference from the pre-pandemic stats.

Legal Conveyancing: Property search order-volumes were a more consistent picture, month to month, with volumes marginally higher than 2019 figures; three per cent up in July, four per cent up in August and two per cent in September. “Even though property lawyers and conveyancers were working hard to meet the stamp duty deadline, it is most likely that a large proportion of searches were ordered in the previous quarter, due to typical order patterns and turnaround times.”

Completions:  Data shows that completions in September peaked 44 per cent higher than in September 2019 driven by the need to beat the conclusion of the stamp duty incentive. The data shows however that completions were much lower in both July (down 35 per cent) and August (down 19 per cent) compared to 2019, illustrating a slowdown in mid-summer, most likely as legal professionals took some well-deserved time off after the exceptionally busy previous quarter. 

Simon Brown, chief executive of Landmark Information Group, says: “The property industry has shown great resilience over the last 18 months as it has had to traverse so many challenges – from the market closure amid the height of the Covid lockdowns, to surges in market activity driven by the Government’s stimulus activities, all the while managing home-working, furlough and unpredictable market conditions.

“As much of the property industry breathes a sigh of relief following the various surges in market activity ahead of the stamp duty deadlines, many aspects of the market are starting to present more stable figures, including SSTC, legal search order-volumes and mortgage valuations. 

We are however seeing the demand for properties continuing to exceed supply. This market imbalance has the potential to lead to depressed sales, placing increasing pressure on property prices, as sellers are able to command higher asking prices. We look to see if this adjusts as we head towards the pre-Christmas sales period.”

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