Early signs are encouraging, showing confidence and a market rise in property values. Figures from Rightmove show that average new seller asking prices increased by 1.3% (+£4,571) month-on-month to £359,748, marking the most significant December to January price surge since 2020. However, it’s still notable that average prices remain 0.7% lower than the same period last year.
In the first weeks of 2024, there has been relatively positive activity, surpassing the previous year. Both prospective buyers and sellers appear more confident in initiating their 2024 moving plans early. Signs suggest that recent issues with lack of stock could be coming to an end as the number of new properties entering the market for sale is 15% higher than the corresponding period last year. Moreover, buyer demand in the first week of 2024 was also 5% higher than the same period last year, with the growth in activity strongest in London and the North East. Nevertheless, competitive pricing from sellers remains crucial, as the number of new properties entering the market currently exceeds the rise in demand. This could, of course, change quickly.
Sales agreed during the first week of the year are 20% higher than the previous year, indicating a robust return of buyer confidence compared to the unsettled post-mini-Budget period a year ago. Since Christmas, Rightmove saw nine of its ten busiest days on record for individuals obtaining a mortgage in principle to assess borrowing capabilities, signalling early signs of individuals being serious about moving in 2024.
The average 5-year mortgage rate has decreased to 4.86%, contrasting with the 6.11% peak in July 2023. While uncertainties may persist, early indicators suggest a more stable year for the mortgage market after its volatility from September 2022 onwards.
Agents widely agree that there are buyers and sellers waiting eagerly in the wings, ready to act as soon as the market seems a bit more favourable – and they could become a steady stream as we get closer to spring. A strong spring market is a definite possibility, and one that lots of experts are predicting. So over the next few weeks, we might expect an increase in homes coming on to the market, plus a further increase in buyer enquiries.