Seasonal jump in demand but headline prices static

Activity levels were boosted by first time buyers looking to beat the stamp duty holiday – which ends on 24 March. And on a regional level the greatest increase in the number of buyers was reported in the south east (+28%) and south west (+22%).

The stock of housing for sale grew 10% over the month. But with investors and first time buyers not having property to sell, the growth in demand over the month out-paced the increase in supply across nearly all regions.

A scarcity of supply remains a key feature of the market. Over the last six months there has been only a small (1.5%) increase in the supply of housing for sale which is acting as a support to pricing.

While this survey tracks trends across the re-sale market, the lack of supply is providing a clear opportunity to the house building industry as they deliver much needed supply into the wider market.

Overall pricing levels remain unchanged for the second month running. A small increase in London offset price falls across six regions and static prices across three.

Agents have used the pick-up in demand to claw-back some of the discount between asking and achieved prices. The proportion of the asking price being achieved jumped to 92.9% in February – up 0.4%.

Higher demand and firmer underlying pricing levels have seen the average time on the market fall from 10.2 weeks in January to 9.9 weeks currently. There is a clear north south divide in the time to sell.

While the seasonal pick-up in demand is to be welcomed, the fundamentals facing the housing market remain largely unchanged. A lack of housing for sale is set to underpin prices in the short term and levels of market activity will be supported in advance of the ending of the stamp duty holiday for first time buyers.

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