175,000 ‘missing sellers’ in housing market as prices in England jump by £6,000

15 June 2020, 00:04

An aerial view of houses in Leverstock Green, Hemel Hempstead
House prices. Picture: PA

There were more than 175,000 ‘missing sellers’ in the market across Britain between March 24 and May 12 compared with a year earlier, Rightmove said.

The average price tag on a home in England is now more than £6,000 higher than in March, according to an index.

The typical asking price for a newly-marketed home in England in June was £337,884.

This is £6,266 higher than an average of £331,618 in March – the month the housing market was put on hold – Rightmove said.

The reopening of England’s housing market has enabled transactions which had been frozen to start going through. Serious buyers can also make physical viewings of properties once more, although virtual viewings online are still encouraged for house-hunters in the early stages of looking for a home.

Rightmove said there is not yet enough new seller house price data in Scotland and Wales for it to compile average asking prices for those countries.

It said that, while the new supply of homes is starting to recover, there were more than 175,000 “missing sellers” in the market across the whole of Britain between March 24 and May 12 compared with the same period in 2019.

Rightmove
Rightmove shows average asking prices across England in June (Rightmove/PA)

Rightmove director Miles Shipside said: “Some sellers who had agreed a sale before lockdown have been worrying that their buyer may try to re-negotiate with a reduced offer.

“On this evidence buyers may now be trying to exchange quickly, as there are signs of high pent-up demand and upwards price pressure, rather than downwards.

“Lenders may also have been concerned about price instability affecting the risk profile of their low-deposit mortgages, so hopefully this will give them more confidence to increase their range of first-time buyer products.”

Analysis by Rightmove of the prices of more than 7,000 newly-agreed sales, provided to it by property groups, indicates that buyers are agreeing to pay closer to the asking price than they were at the start of the year.

On average, between May 13 and June 4, buyers were having offers accepted at 97.7% of the last advertised asking price on Rightmove.

Although these sales have not yet fully gone through, they are an indication of what completed sales could look like.

Completion data from the Land Registry for February shows an average of 96.6% achieved of the last advertised price on Rightmove, the website said.

Rightmove also said it is important for buyers and sellers to note that the 97.7% figure is an average, with variations depending on local market conditions.

The closest to asking price currently being achieved is in the West Midlands, at 98.1%, and the lowest is in the North East, at 96.8%, it said.

Mr Shipside said: “Those buyers hoping to negotiate hard may find their offer rejected in the current market.”

He added: “The early release from housing lockdown has helped to get England moving again, but we’ll have to wait until the housing markets in Wales and Scotland are similarly released to see if the whole of Britain gets moving.”

Andy Shepherd, chief executive of estate agent Dexters, said: “We’re tremendously busy across all of our 70 London offices.”

He added: “Immediately before lockdown we’d seen the best market for five years. However, comparing last week with the first week of March, we are 60% up on transactions.

“A recurring theme from both buyers and tenants is the need for more interior space for home working; outside space, whether a balcony, roof terrace or garden; and a more convenient location, whether for work, leisure or family reasons.”

David Plumtree, group chief executive for estate agency at Connells Group, said: “So far in June we’re seeing more buyers register with us than during the same period last year – leading to increased levels of new instructions and sales agreed so far this month.

“Notably there is strong demand from first-time buyers despite a shortage of higher loan-to-value mortgage products.”

Oliver Blake, managing director of Your Move and Reeds Rains Estate Agents, said: “As soon as the restrictions on viewing property were lifted in the middle of May we received many more inquiries about properties for sale by our national network of branches than we expected.”

Matt Nicol, managing director of Nicol & Co in Worcester, said: “Covid-19 is still a very real threat, and the safety of our staff and clients has had to remain a priority. We’ve taken to live-streaming all instructions to be our first step in the journey and with great success.

“We now carry out less physical viewings with very eager clients that then make quick decisions to offer.”

By Press Association

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