The UK property market is beginning to shrink as winter draws in after the number of sellers and buyers fell in October, according to real estate agents.
The residential real estate housing contracted in October month-on-month but sales levels held up, with the average branch selling seven properties in the month, the same as in September, the latest market report from the National Association of Estate Agent (NAEA) shows.
With the festive period looming though, activity levels are falling and it is expected that the housing market will slow down in the run up to Christmas. And Michael Jones, president of the NAEA warned that the traditional problem was being exacerbated by sellers unwilling to accept falling house prices and buyers suffering from restrictive lending criteria.
Only 218 house hunters registered with an estate agent in October compared to 247 in September, while the number of houses available for sale dropped from an average of 72 per branch in September to 67 in October.
There has been a slight increase in the number of first time buyers. The percentage of sales made to first time buyers increased in October from 20% to 23%, the report also shows.
‘Buyers and sellers are inclined to wait until the New Year when they have more time to commit but the housing market is also very price sensitive currently. Many sellers believe that the lack of available housing stock means they can make a sale without lowering the price of their home,’ explained Jones.
However house hunters are also confident of a good deal. It is reassuring that sales seem stable and we have actually seen a slight increase in the percentage of sales made to first time buyers. But mortgage restrictions will need to be eased if we are to see any real increases across the market moving into the early part of 2011,’ he added.
This week the NAEA will introduce the first ever licence for estate agents, designed to help consumers choose qualified or experienced agents.
The association believes that the licence will help to raise standards throughout the housing industry and will help to ease concerns of consumers.