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Time on the market rises as vendors ‘hold-out for top prices’

Agents are taking almost a month longer to sell homes than last year as the market adjusts to new pricing, seller expectations, supply and demand, new data suggests.

The latest market metrics from agency brand Hamptons suggests homes across Great Britain are taking 22 days longer to reach the sold subject to contract (SSTC) phase than they were last year.  

The average home sold in March came onto the market 48 days ago, according to research by the agent.


However, well-priced and future-proofed homes are still selling at a similar pace to last year, particularly at the top-end of the market where buyers tend to be cash-rich and are likely to stay in that home for a longer period of time, Hamptons said.

Of all £1m-plus homes that came onto the market last month, one in 10 sold within a week.  

This is up from 8% in March 2022 and the second highest proportion recorded of any March since our records began in 2009. 

Across Great Britain, 11% of March’s new instructions had an offer accepted within a week, slightly down from 12% in March 2022. 

As mortgage rates have risen, so too have the number of homes being sold following a price reduction.  The figures peaked in February, when 50% of homes sold in Great Britain were sold following a price reduction of at least £1. 

However, as the year progresses, a rising share of homes being sold have come onto the market this year, rather than last.  As a result, the proportion of homes sold following a price reduction decreased a little in March to 48%, Hamptons said.

It suggested this figure could continue to fall in the coming months “as the market continues to stabilise and new instructions are priced accordingly.”

The agent said 40% of homes sold last month came onto the market in 2022, down from 55% in February.

Across England & Wales, the average seller achieved 98.8% of their asking price last month, down from a near-record of 101.0% in March 2022, the research shows.

However, the continued lack of homes coming onto the market means that sellers are still achieving closer to their asking price than in any March pre-2021.

While homes that sell quickly are more likely to achieve their asking price, those that came onto the market in March and sold in the same month achieved an average of 99.9% of their asking price, Hamptons said.

This is still higher than 2019, when sellers that sold within a month achieved 99.0% of their asking price. 

Meanwhile homes that came onto the market in 2022 and sold last month, achieved 98.4% of their asking price.  

This figure is still higher than 2019 when sellers took equally as long to sell.

Cash buyers continue to negotiate harder and in March achieved a 1.1% discount on average.  Whereas mortgaged buyers paid 99.1% of the asking price in England and Wales last month, up from 98.2% in March 2019.

First-time buyers usually fall into this latter group.  

While movers and investors reduced what they were willing to spend month-on-month, lower mortgage rates and the desire to make their first move meant that the average first-time buyer paid 99.5% of the asking price in March, up from a low of 99.0% in December 2022.

With 10% fewer homes coming onto the market in March than the same time in 2019, and 2% more buyers registering to buy, bidding wars remain common, Hamptons said.

Its data shows that 32% of homes sold in Great Britain in March had three or more offers from competing buyers, up from 29% in March 2019.

However, there were fewer bidding wars than last year when 43% of homes sold in March 2022 were sold with three or more competing offers.

Studio and one-bed homes have bucked this trend – 29% of these properties sold in March had three or more offers, up from 27% in March 2022.  These homes are often bought by first-time buyers or investors, with the former group remaining active in the market.

Although three-bed homes still remain the most likely to be sold with competing offers, they’ve seen the biggest year-on-year decline in competition – 33% of three-beds sold with three or more offers in March 2023, 16% lower than March 2022.

Aneisha Beveridge, head of research at Hamptons, said: “The impact of higher interest rates continues to bear down on the market. 

“However new buyer numbers have recovered to 2019 levels, suggesting that the second half of 2023 is likely to be stronger than the first.  But the market’s ability to pick up pace later in the year will depend on how quickly inflation drops out of the picture and whether the Bank of England can begin cutting rates.

“Sellers are still holding out for top prices on the back of limited numbers of new homes coming onto the market.  While the total number of homes for sale has steadily risen, this has been driven by the lengthening time it’s been taking to sell each home rather than the number of homes coming onto the market. The number of new homes coming on to the market in March stands 13% below the same month in 2019.”

  • Matthew Gardiner Legge

    This has to be due in some part to the increasingly common corporate practice of overvaluing to gain the instruction then tying the vendor in with ridiculously long (ie 26 week) contracts.


    Plenty of independent agents overvalue

  • icon

    Looking at the listing dates on Rightmove, it would seem that most sellers are still quite delusional when it comes to their pricing. What are they waiting for, if they have had no enquiries in two weeks, what do they think is going to happen? As soon as a few sellers reduce their prices and manage to get their properties sold, it will create a domino effect. Significant price reductions need to start to happen soon or the market will continue to stagnate.


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