The average asking price for newly-listed homes has risen 3% over the last 12 months, despite higher mortgage costs, according to Rightmove.
The property portal said that the typical asking price had increased by £2,906 to £365,357 in the year to mid-March, as the market showed ‘cautious signs of recovery’ following turbulence caused by the infamous mini-Budget in September 2022.
However, the average asking price is still £5,800 below October’s peak, the data shows.
Over the past month price growth has been fuelled primarily by a 1.2% jump in larger homes at the top of the property ladder.
Property industry reaction:
Tom Bill, head of UK residential research at Knight Frank commented, “A solid start to the year for the UK housing market has been enhanced by an economic backdrop that has become more favourable over the last ten days. The fact a recession may well be averted and inflation forecasts fell in the Budget will only boost sentiment among buyers and sellers as they adapt to a higher rate environment.”
“The pressure on rates is downwards as lenders become more competitive in a lower-volume market. If central bankers adopt a less strident approach to higher rates following the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank this month, that downwards pressure will intensify. The swap market is already pricing in a more dove-ish stance after the demise of the California-based lender.”
“That said, downwards price pressure will persist as more owners come to the end of fixed-rate deals and supply picks up from the lows of the pandemic. We expect a 5% decline this year across the UK.”
Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, said: ‘These numbers are interesting as they confirm what we’ve been seeing recently in other surveys, as well as on the ground. Although Rightmove’s statistics reflect asking, not selling, prices, the market is clearly demonstrating considerable resilience despite continuing worries about the cost of living and mortgage rates.
‘Property is price sensitive and activity patchy but stock levels are improving. For instance, we’re still receiving several offers on some properties – particularly family houses where shortages remain – but little or no interest in others. Encouragingly too, we’ve noticed first-time buyers making a comeback after almost writing them off as an endangered species at the end of last year.
‘Looking forward, buyers and sellers are beginning to shrug off the more damaging economic effects of last September’s mini-Budget so we’re looking forward to a busier spring than we dared hope for in the early weeks of the year.’’
Matthew Thompson, Chestertons’ head of sales, said: “Spring may not see the typical seasonal increase in properties being put up for sale that many buyers had hoped for. Whilst buyers remained undeterred in February, there were 17% fewer sellers entering the market. This, in turn, is leading to a limited number of properties coming onto the market in March and April leaving many house hunters frustrated.”
“The London property market slowed down at the end of last year in reaction to the Bank of England increasing interest rates. These rates have started to come down since the beginning of 2023 and we are seeing stronger competition amongst mortgage lenders which means that rates are now only slightly higher than before the September 2022 mini-budget. This has relieved some pressure on households with fixed-rate mortgages coming up for renewal. As a result, some homeowners who had considered downsizing to lower costs may have been able to get another fixed-rate mortgage at an affordable rate – meaning they are under less pressure to sell.”
Tomer Aboody, director of property lender MT Finance, says: ‘Some ‘normality’ is setting in after two years of unprecedented house price rises, which in turn were fuelled by the pandemic and rock-bottom mortgage rates, as volumes and numbers slowly return to pre-pandemic levels.
‘It is interesting to see the higher end of the market is on the up showing that buyers are still there at all levels of the market, with price resetting making homes more affordable. Of course, with interest rates still to settle down after multiple hikes, there’s still some caution although a confidently delivered Budget has provided some confidence for the markets, with inflation on course to be reduced and rates accordingly set to fall in the next 12 months or so.’
The average price of property coming to market this month has added 1.6%, or £5,537, to the average price of a property, which has hit £360,101, according to Rightmove.
Despite growing economic headwinds, the 2022 market continues to set new milestones for price and activity levels, the data shows.
All regions and all market sectors have reached new record price highs, for only the second time since 2007.
Property industry reaction:
Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS residential chairman, said: “At first glance, Rightmove’s figures are quite surprising, particularly as they don’t reflect what we’ve been seeing over the past few weeks at ‘the sharp end’.
“Firstly, these are asking, not selling, prices so don’t allow for increasing worries about the tightening squeeze on the cost of living and rising interest rates exacerbated by the war in Ukraine
“We’re also finding the continuing dire shortage of stock is driving demand from new buyers, persuading many existing movers to continue with their purchases as they know how difficult it will be to find an alternative property at a more realistic price.
“As a result, values are likely to keep rising albeit more slowly partly because the number and pace of transactions is dropping and some demand is fizzling out as it can’t be satisfied quickly enough.”
The managing director of Barrows and Forrester, James Forrester, commented: “Since early 2020, an unrelenting level of homebuyer demand has fuelled a property market boom that shows no signs of slowing some two years down the line.
“Such sustained market conditions are quite phenomenal and as cliche as it sounds, there really never has been a better time to sell your house.
“To say homes are selling like hotcakes would be an understatement and with multiple buyers battling it out for every last scrap of property stock, sellers are achieving above and beyond their original price expectations.”
Marc von Grundherr, director of Benham and Reeves, said: “As a nation, we’ve endured a prolonged period of economic instability due to the pandemic and yet more dark clouds are gathering due to the cost of living crisis. But despite this the UK property market remains a powerhouse of defiance, demonstrated by the fact that every region of the nation has reached record price highs in unison.
“Although London continues to trail where this asking price performance is concerned, we’ve already seen concrete signs that the market is starting to turn in 2022, putting a sluggish pandemic performance firmly behind us.
“It will, of course, take some time before this starts to filter through and bolster home seller confidence within the capital, but when it does, it won’t be long before asking price expectations start to climb considerably. So while it very much remains a sellers market across the board, now is the time to buy in London as property prices are only heading one way for the remainder of the year, at the very least.”
Tomer Aboody, director of property lender MT Finance, says: “Three months of price growth in the midst of rising inflation and interest rates, as well as the ongoing economic uncertainty, further highlights the lack of properties coming onto the market. This is creating huge competition among buyers, which is driving prices ever higher.
“While the chance of further interest rate rises is extremely high, buyers are taking advantage of low rates and fixing for as long as possible in order to manage their mortgage payments over the next few years.
“A change in stamp duty is needed so that more sellers look to sell, increasing supply and stabilising house prices.”
Director of Henry Dannell, Geoff Garrett, commented: “There’s no denying that the property market has performed impressively and with the cost of borrowing remaining favourable at present and buyer demand levels unlikely to subside, the short term outlook remains positive.
“However, both buyers and sellers would be well advised to make hay while the sun is shining, as growing economic headwinds are likely to take their toll further down the line.
“While we don’t expect to see market activity evaporate completely, the growing cost of living will be a significant factor in the months to come and as household finances are stretched, it’s likely that prospective buyers will ease off on the sums they’re willing to offer. As a result, sellers will need to realign themselves with these changing market conditions and this will cause the rate of house price growth to cool.”
Gary Wright, co-CEO of payment technology firm flatfair, said: “The third consecutive record for house prices shows the housing ladder is being hoisted beyond the reach of many.
“It means that renting is becoming the norm for increasingly more of the population. And for renters already dedicating a far higher proportion of their monthly income to housing than average mortgage holders, seeing house prices continue to rise and stock disappear, all while the cost of living soars, will be a real kick in the teeth.
“Given the government’s stated goal of helping out Generation Rent, it should start by unlocking the £4.5 billion locked away in rental deposits – this could be put to far better use by renting households in tough financial circumstances.”
The managing director of HBB Solutions, Chris Hodgkinson, remarked: “The market is moving at an incredibly fast pace and this certainly favours the nation’s home sellers who are spoilt for choice when it comes to the interest shown in their property.
“Despite these favourable conditions they are still advised to act with a level head and avoid getting swept up by this cyclone of market activity.
“The highest offer isn’t always the best option and it’s important to consider a buyer’s position within the market, not just the money they’re willing to pay. Failing to do so can see a sale collapse and unnecessary additional costs incurred.”