The professional body for estate agents, NAEA Propertymark, revealed it was a buyer’s market in March, with 86% of properties sold for less than the asking price – the highest level since records began in 2013.
This is up from 74% in February, when a majority of sellers also accepted offers below their original asking price. Only 10% of properties sold for their original asking price in March, the lowest since records began.
March also saw the number of house-hunters on estate agents’ books fall marginally; from 309 registered per branch in February, to 308. Demand for housing was also down 22% year-on-year, as agents registered 397 house-hunters per branch in March 2017 and 417 in March 2016.
Furthermore, the number of available properties per branch increased from 35 in February, to 40 in March – the highest since October last year.
March Hayward, chief executive of NAEA Propertymark, said: “Earlier this month, Zoopla research showed that on average, houses are being sold for almost £25,000 less than asking price, which our findings echo.”
“A record number of properties sold for less than asking price in March, indicating that buyers have shifted into the power seat. This is music to house-hunters’ ears – especially for first-time buyers.”
Despite sales to first-time buyers rising last month following the introduction of stamp duty relief for most first-time buyers, sales to the group fell by 3% to 26% in March. This is also down from 27% in January and 29% in February.
The number of sales agreed stayed the same in March, with an average of eight recorded per branch.
Hayward continued: “Although sales to the group have fallen, the fact that the market is moving in favour of the buyers may trigger an upward swing in the number of sales agreed as they’re in a position to negotiate lower prices.”
However, this is a short-term triumph for buyers, he claimed. Although demand has cooled off over the last few months and created these market conditions, it’s likely to increase again as those holding off on making purchases move to take advantage of these lower prices.
He added: “Ultimately, this means the number of offers accepted below asking price will fall again and the market will swing back in the favour of homeowners. The only thing which will offer a long-term solution is more homes to balance the issue of supply and demand.”