Average asking prices have hit new highs but there are signs of the market easing, Rightmove claims.
The portal’s latest listings data shows the price of property coming to market has hit a fourth consecutive record of £367,501, up by 2.1% monthly and 10.2% on an annual basis.
Its House Price Index also found agents are getting properties to the sold subject to contract stage in record time at 31 days, underlining the low level of stock and excess demand.
The speed of the market means available properties are down 16% compared with last year and down 55% compared against 2019, with new stock most desperately needed for two- and three-bedroom semi-detached homes, Rightmove said.
Sales agreed are up 12% year to date compared to the same period in 2019, but in what Rightmove describes as one sign of the market easing, they are down 17% annually.
The number of buyers contacting estate agents is 14% down on the stamp-duty-fuelled market of this time last year, but is up by 31% on the more comparable market of 2019, according to the research.
Rightmove predicted that the market will moderate later this year as economic conditions hit and supply improves but is standing by predictions of house price growth of 5%.
Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s director of property science, said: “People may be wondering why the housing market is seemingly running in the opposite direction to the wider economy at the moment.
“What the data is showing us right now is that those who have the ability to do so are prioritising their home and moving, and the imbalance between supply and demand is supporting rising prices.
“Though demand is softening from the heady levels we saw this time last year, the number of buyers enquiring is still significantly higher than during the last ‘normal’ market of 2019, while the number of homes for them to choose from remains more constrained.
“We anticipate that the effects of the increased cost of living and rising interest rates will filter through to the market later in the year, and a combination of more supply of homes and people weighing up what they can afford will help to moderate the market.”
Bannister also predicted that sales would be closer to 1.2m rather than the 1.5m of last year.
He also urged buyers against waiting for a drop in the market due to a lack of certainty on the level of stock and mortgage affordability.
Commenting on the data, Guy Gittins, chief executive of estate agent Chestertons, said: “Before the pandemic, the market had three years of people being concerned about the impact that Brexit would have on the economy in addition to the potential change of government on the cards.
"This led to many house hunters putting their property search on hold.
"Since the pandemic, however, market activity has completely shifted the opposite direction as buyers have become far more concerned about living in the right property.
“Despite living costs and interest rates going up, the market is showing no signs of slowing down and the strong buyer demand we have seen since the beginning of the year has continued into the month of May.
"Buyer registrations for the year to date are at an all-time high, whilst the number of agreed sales in solicitors’ hands is at a record ever level.”