Little improvement in market for April

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THE housing market showed signs of another slowdown last month as demand for property declined, with little improvement in the number of house sales, according to estate agents.

The National Association of Estate Agent’s (NAEA) market report for April shows that despite the Easter holiday – traditionally a period of increased buyer interest – home buying activity fell, with only a slight rise in the supply of housing.

Only 294 house-hunters registered with an estate agent in April compared to 297 in March. This compares some 348 house-hunters on average five years ago, in April 2007.

The number of homes on the market increased by just one per branch, from an average of 61 homes in March to 62 in April.

The number of sales made during the month remained in-line with figures recorded in March 2012 with an average of 7 sales per branch. This was also the case with the first time buyer market, which accounted for an average 24 per cent of overall house sales in both March and April 2012.

Wendy Evans-Scott, President of the NAEA, said of this latest data: “Despite sales figures remaining stable, there is little sign of green shoots of growth in the levels of property supply and demand.”

“Growth is being held back by continued restrictive lending policies from the major banks and lack of an adequate mechanism to support the first time buyer market, a situation which will only get worse if mortgage rates rise as predicted.

“At the same time, supply remains a huge issue, with latest Government figures showing fewer homes are being built. We support recent industry calls from groups like the National Housing Federation and Shelter for more housebuilding.

“The Newbuy housing scheme goes some way to assisting house-hunters, but this is limited to new homes only. The Government needs to finally tackle head-on the problems facing the industry; as the UK re-enters recession, and uncertainty remains across the Eurozone, measures need to be taken to restore confidence in a market so crucial to the UK’s recovery.