There has been a 6.1% increase in the number of property sales agreed, as buyers are spurred into action by improved affordability and the opportunity of securing a deal prior to the Brexit deadline, new figures show.
A seasonal monthly 1% drop in the average price of property coming on to market resulted in a better performance than usual in August, pushing the annual rate of increase to 1.2%, according to Rightmove.
The average price of property coming to market dropped by £3,192 this month, continuing the usual pattern of decreases in the month of August, as new-to-the-market sellers at this time of year tend to have a more pressing need to sell, and price more cheaply to attract holiday-distracted purchasers, including buy-to-let investors.
But buyers seem much more focused on securing a property this year in contrast to recent summers, with the highest number of sales agreed at this time of year for four years.
Miles Shipside, Rightmove director and housing market analyst commented: “Surprisingly there seems to be a bit of a summer buying spree, despite it normally being a quieter time of year.
“For some reason more buyers have cottoned on to the fact that it can be a good time of year to buy, with less competition from other buyers, and sellers typically more willing to accept a lower price. Whilst another approaching Brexit deadline is now nothing new for prospective buyers, this one may seem more definite, and therefore one to beat, with the Government regarding this one as ‘do or die’.
“While the end of October Brexit outcome remains uncertain, more buyers are now going for the certainty of doing a deal, with some having perhaps hesitated earlier in the year.”
All regions of the UK have seen a year-on-year increase in sales agreed, with the North East, East of England, and Yorkshire & the Humber leading the country with rises of over 10%.
The uplift in sales activity is biased towards the east coast, with the North East up by 13.6%, East of England by 12.7% and Yorkshire & the Humber by 10.1%. Two of these regions are the cheapest in England, but parts of the East of England are higher-priced London commuter belt, although still cheaper than the neighbouring South East region.
Shipside continued: “More prospective movers are taking the plunge, getting stuck into deals with sellers more willing to lower their price expectations, and lenders wanting to lend and offering low rates.
“There’s only so long that buyers and sellers can delay the familial, financial and emotional forces driving the need to move, and with the average time between agreeing a sale and moving in being more than three months, we’re now entering the last chance saloon for those who want to have finished their move before the end of the year.
“We often see an autumn activity bounce, but perhaps this year’s political activities have brought that forward into a summer surge as buyers have gone bolder and earlier than usual. This increased activity has led to new seller asking prices falling by only 1% in the month, compared with the 2.3% fall of the same time last year, which has driven the annual rate of increase to 1.2 %, the highest since September 2018.”
One of the main challenges that buyers face after having agreed a purchase is the delay in turning that agreement to move into the binding reality of legal completion and actually moving in.
The number of properties that are sold subject to contract and stuck in the legal process log-jam is at its highest level since June 2014.
Shipside added: “It’s an anxious time for all involved once a sale has been agreed subject to contract, and that includes the estate agent whose livelihood depends on the sales going through rather than falling through.
“A major factor that might help these moves to actually happen is that it seems more buyers and sellers are convinced it’s a good time financially to do a deal, plus wanting the certainty of getting the deal signed and sealed because of the next looming Brexit deadline.”