House-hunters hit by general election nerves
The number of potential homebuyers registered per estate agent branch fell from 397 in March and 425 in January and February to 381 in April, according to the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA).
The industry body said the decline was down to uncertainty triggered by the snap General Election.
Last April, amid Brexit uncertainty, the number of house-hunters searching for properties was 17% lower at 325 per branch.
Property supply has also fallen in the run-up to 8 June. There were 36 properties available to buy per branch in April, down from 39 per branch in March.
The NAEA said this was the lowest level seen since April 2016 when agents had just 35 properties to market as sellers held off until after the EU referendum.
Mark Hayward of NAEA said: “Periods of political uncertainty tend to halt activity in the housing market, and this is exactly what we’re seeing this month.
“All of the main political parties have outlined significant housing promises in their manifestos and we’d hope to see these policies rolled out in the new government’s first six to 12 months in Parliament. Buyers and sellers alike are recognising this and adopting a ‘wait and see’ strategy to decipher how or if the value of their existing or future homes will be affected.
“However, despite the fact that increasing housing stock is playing a part in the election campaigning, more often than not we find these pledges are unachievable and turn out to be empty promises. It’s therefore important that the market doesn’t totally stall as this could trigger an unintended domino effect, which we could still feel the effect of years later before supply increases. A business as usual approach will ensure house-hunters are met with a healthy supply of properties to view, and sellers get a fair price and a good buyer.”
What has each party pledged?
The Conservative Party has promised to build a million homes by the end of 2020, with a further 500,000 by the end of 2022. It has also said fixed-term social houses will be built and sold privately after 10 to 15 years with an automatic right to buy for tenants.
The Liberal Democrats have said they will build 300,000 new homes by 2022, including direct building by the government.
They want to create at least 10 new garden cities in England, with the aim of providing tens of thousands of new zero carbon homes.
Labour said it is working on a “state-backed mortgage scheme” that would help young adults buy a home.
The party has promised to build over a million publicly funded new homes in five years, with at least half a million being council homes.