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No end in sight to UK’s housing shortage

The UK’s housing market showed further signs of weakness in July, as the number of property sales fell as uncertainty and a shortage of supply kept potential purchasers at bay.

The number of properties available to buy on agents’ books decreased to just 35 last month - the lowest amount recorded for July since National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA Propertymark) records began 15 years ago.

With fewer homes to choose from, there was also a dip in the number of house buyers registered per member branch in March; agents had an average of 347 prospective buyers on their books compared to 384 in June.


While demand has dropped to its lowest level since November 2016, when 344 potential buyers were registered per branch, last month’s tally is still considerably higher than July 2016, when just 298 were recorded.

The proportion of sales which were agreed for first-time buyers fell as well, down 30% to 23% of overall transactions in July. This is the lowest level seen since last September when the rate was also 23%. 

In terms of sales agreed, this figure fell to an average of eight per branch last month, down from 11 a month earlier, which is typical of this time of year. Some 3% of homes sold last month went for more than the original asking price.

“It is natural for the market to dip in the summer and then recover,” said Mark Hayward, chief executive, NAEA Propertymark.

He added:  “We usually see a subdued July and August, and then a boom in September with an influx of new properties coming onto the market, it remains to be seen whether this year is typical.

“We’d also expect to see the number of house hunter increase, as buyers strive to complete sales before the winter kicks in.”


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