The number of residential property sales has fallen by 20% as many prospective purchasers adopt a ‘wait and see’ approach ahead of next week’s general election.
Each branch of estate agents agreed sales on eight properties on average in April, down from 10 in March, according to the latest figures published by the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA Propertymark).
The trade body found that there were just 36 properties available to buy per branch in April, down from 39 properties in March. But demand also fell, with the number of buyers registered with each branch reaching 381 in April, which was below the 425 recorded in January and February, and 397 in March.
However, given the widening supply-demand imbalance in the market, the proportion of homes being sold for above the asking price increased to one in 14 in April, from one in 20 in March.
Mark Hayward, chief executive of the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA Propertymark), said: “Periods of political uncertainty tend to halt activity in the housing market, and this is exactly what we’re seeing this month.
“All of the main political parties have outlined significant housing promises in their manifestos and we’d hope to see these policies rolled out in the new government’s first six to 12 months in Parliament. Buyers and sellers alike are recognising this and adopting a ‘wait and see’ strategy to decipher how or if the value of their existing or future homes will be affected.
“However, despite the fact that increasing housing stock is playing a part in the election campaigning, more often than not we find these pledges are unachievable and turn out to be empty promises. It’s therefore important that the market doesn’t totally stall as this could trigger an unintended domino effect, which we could still feel the effect of years later before supply increases.
“A business as usual approach will ensure house-hunters are met with a healthy supply of properties to view, and sellers get a fair price and a good buyer.”