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Jump in activity

UK housing market gathers momentum at start of 2024 – Rightmove

The average asking prices for UK homes have made the strongest start to the year since 2020, with a jump in buyer and seller activity, reports Rightmove.

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Originally posted: 15th January, 2024

Promising activity in the first week of the year

The average asking prices for UK homes have made the strongest start to the year since 2020, with a jump in buyer and seller activity, reports Rightmove.

Average new seller asking prices are up by 1.3% (+£4,571) month-on-month to £359,748, which is the largest December to January increase in prices since 2020, Rightmove’s latest House Price Index report, published today, Monday January 15th, says.

It reports that there has been some promising activity in the first week of the year, markedly stronger than a year ago, with more prospective buyers and sellers seeming to have the confidence to get their 2024 moving plans started early.

The number of new properties that have come onto the market for sale is 15% up on the same period last year.

Buyer demand up

Buyer demand in the first week of 2024 is also 5% up on the same period last year. However, competitive pricing from sellers remains crucial, with the number of new properties coming to market outpacing the rise in demand.

The number of sales agreed is 20% up on the first week of last year, which points to a strong return of buyer confidence when compared with the unsettled post-mini-budget period a year ago.

Since Christmas, Rightmove has seen nine of its ten busiest days recorded for people securing a Mortgage in Principle to see what they can afford to borrow, which is another early indication of movers getting their plans for 2024 in place.

Rightmove reports that the average five-year mortgage rate is now 4.86%, against 6.11% at the July 2023 peak. It says that while there could be more surprises to come, early signs suggest a more stable year for the mortgage market following its volatility from September 2022 onwards.

“Smoother year for movers”

Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s Director of Property Science, said: After a stop-start market in 2023, the initial signs suggest a smoother year for movers in 2024. More new sellers are now entering the market, and with more confident pricing. While the increased level of buyer activity that we’re also seeing may justify some of this increased pricing confidence from sellers, it’s important that sellers who are keen to find a buyer don’t get carried away with New Year enthusiasm when setting their price expectations. Elevated mortgage rates and the wider cost-of-living squeeze are still limiting buyers’ spending power. Accurate and realistic pricing for their local area is the recipe for success for sellers looking to get moving in 2024, and it’s been proven that over-optimistic pricing makes a move much less likely.”

Tim added: “Rightmove’s whole-of-market data puts us in a position to see the very earliest signs of activity in the market, and the number of new listings, buyer enquiries to agents, and sales being agreed are encouraging early indicators. Combined with our more recent Mortgage in Principle data, the numbers suggest that many are taking action to make their move in 2024, perhaps including some who paused last year due to the more unsteady mortgage market. A General Election is expected to be held during the second half of 2024, and traditionally we see a temporary slow-down in activity in the weeks before an election, as movers wait for the outcome and assess any impact that it may have on their housing plans. It will be important to keep a careful eye on this and on the impact of other economic news this year, but for now the data at the start of 2024 points to building momentum, and reasons for growing market optimism.”

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