Record number of homeowners put houses on market after Christmas
A festive house-selling rush led to a record number of homeowners putting their properties on the market.
The number of homes going on the market on Boxing Day rose by 26 per cent – or just over 10,000 houses – compared to the same day the prior year, which was also a record high, according to figures from property website Rightmove.
It suggests that homeowners who put their plans to move on hold last year are returning to the market.
The number of buyers contacting estate agents about homes for sale also rose healthily, up 17 per cent compared to Boxing Day in 2022.
The upturn in activity has prompted some property experts to suggest that some households are becoming less deterred about the economic outlook and pressure on their finances from inflation.
Interest rates are still at 5.25 per cent but are expected to fall twice this year while inflation fell from 10.1 per cent at the beginning of 2023 to its current level of 3.9 per cent.
Nathan Emerson, chief executive of Propertymark, said: “Positivity is clearly resonating on the property market even though Christmas is normally a quiet period for the property sector.
“Sellers are clearly not deterred by the latest inflation figures or interest rates as optimistic signs start to emerge and are demonstrating confidence in the market.”
Some experts warned it was important not to get too excited yet.
Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s property expert, added: “Whilst it is early days, it will be key to monitor activity as it ramps up through the end of winter and into spring, particularly to track whether sellers are pricing attractively enough to agree a sale with a buyer quickly, given buyers now have more choice to consider than last year and are still very price sensitive.”
Affordability will remain a key factor for buyers, though, with interest rates remaining higher than the recent period of rock-bottom rates.
However, lenders are responding by reducing rates or the required deposits needed to secure a mortgage.
Earlier this week, HSBC repriced a host of residential and buy-to-let mortgages with a five-year fix now available for 3.94 per cent. The country’s biggest lender, Halifax, has also cut rates earlier this week.
Nicholas Mendes, from broker John Charcol, said: “Lenders will be looking to capitalise on the pent-up purchase demand and those coming to the end of their fixed rate in the first half of 2024, so we should expect to see continuous battle amongst lenders.”