There are significantly more active house hunters in the market compared to this time last year, however first time buyer numbers have fallen again, according to The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA).
Figures from the NAEA October Housing Market Report show a considerable increase in the numbers of house hunters over the past year, up from an average of 265 in October 2012 to 332 in October 2013 – an increase of more than 25 percent (25.3 percent) – and up 5.7 percent on last month alone. Buying a house as a couple was the most popular method seen by member agents, with nine out of ten properties being sold to pairs. Only six percent of properties were sold to individuals.
Despite this influx of house hunters, first time buyer (FTB) figures dropped, from 25 percent in September to 24 percent in October, making this the second month in a row in which agents saw fewer FTBs. As the overall number of buyers increases, there was also a sharp drop in properties available for sale this month, falling from an average of 57 per branch in September to an average of 53 per branch in October – a drop of seven percent.
As expected with the strong level of demand, sales remained strong with NAEA member agents reporting an increase in completions, up from an average of nine per branch in September to ten in October, equalling the four year high reached in May 2013 (ten). The most popular group purchasing property in October was the 31 to 40 year olds. They led the way making up 43 percent of home buyers, followed closely by the 41 to 55 year olds at 42 percent.
Jan Hÿtch, President of the National Association of Estate Agents, said: “The overall housing market is showing marked signs of improvement compared to previous years and sales have remained strong in October. Competitive mortgages have played an important part in the recovery but I will watch the first time buyer numbers with considerable interest in the coming months to see if the decline reported by our members is addressed by the take up of Help to Buy.
“The significant number of house hunters entering the market in October actively looking for property means there is a lot more competition across the board, especially for the best properties. The drop in supply of properties will only exaggerate competition further so for the best chance to secure the home you want buyers should have all their paperwork in order. This will show agents that you are a serious buyer and should speed up the overall process.”
* Figures from the NAEA’s October 2013 Market Report