‘Business as usual’ for the housing market as we head into spring

Posted on Tuesday, April 18, 2023

UK housing market conditions continue to improve as we head into spring, as the uncertainty caused by the mini-Budget last autumn continues to subside.

The majority of UK buyers – 71% – surveyed last month said that they were confident that they would purchase a property within the next three months, compared to 69% in February.

The data provided by OnTheMarket (OTM) suggests remarkable resilience in the face of significant macro-economic turmoil; and despite considerable headwinds, the homebuying public is pressing on.

As well as an increase in confidence among buyers, the data also shows a small increase in confidence among sellers who were confident they would sell their property within the next three months in March (63% compared with 62% in February).

Naturally, there are some regional variations, with seller confidence in the East of England falling from 65% in February to 60% in March, while seller confidence also slipped in Wales, from 64% of sellers confident they would sell their properties in the next three months in February to 59% in March. However, in the South East, confidence rose with 64% of sellers confident of a sale within three months in March compared to 59% in February.

Nearly half of all properties – 45% – were SSTC within 30 days of first being advertised for sale in March, further underlining the upwards trends in confidence and positivity.

While this number is down in the same period last year, the market is very different as it continues to rebalance in a measured way. These numbers also suggest that it is returning to business as usual for UK prospective buyers, despite some negative reporting around pricing, according to OTM CEO, Jason Tebb.

He commented: “Average property prices have softened a little, although this is within the context of the value of the average home rising by £17,000 in the past year, according to the latest ONS/Land Registry figures, at a time when many predicted they would fall. Now that the stamp duty holiday is over and the cost of living has risen, prices aren’t rising in some regions, although we aren’t seeing a major nationwide correction, and the gradual rebalancing of the market does not seem to have dented confidence.

“The war on inflation continues and while it has ticked up again, the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee is expecting it to halve by the end of the year.

“March’s Budget did not include anything to help first-time buyers, but equally there was nothing to dampen sentiment. Mortgage pricing has been volatile and with some of the bigger lenders reducing their five-year fixed-rate mortgages below the 4% barrier, this should reassure borrowers.

“Latest Bank of England figures on mortgage approvals show they are moving in the right direction, although they’re lower than the volumes seen during the height of the pandemic.

“On the whole, it seems to be more like business as usual for the market as we head into spring. As the sun makes a more regular appearance, more properties are coming to market looking their best, and there’s growing expectation as to what the next few months have in store. There is, however, still a need to be cautious; motivated sellers must not get carried away, but be realistic in their pricing and listen to the advice of a professional local agent, particularly if they’re keen to sell within that magic 30-day window. With buyers and sellers seemingly increasingly confident, there is plenty to be positive about.”

Via @PropertyIndustryEye