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Homebuyer confidence returns as agreed sales hit highest point this year

Nick Cheek
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Nick Cheek

The number of agreed sales are at their highest level this year, the latest housing data has revealed.

Sales numbers are up by 11% on the five-year average, Zoopla said, which noted that confidence among buyers is improving. 

However, it pointed out that there are big regional differences when it comes to demand agreed sales. In Scotland, the North East and London, demand and agreed sales are all running at above the five-year average, for example.

By contrast, Zoopla found that demand for housing in regions in southern England is lagging behind.

Sellers need to get real on price

The portal also argued that sellers need to be realistic with their asking prices in order to get enough interest from buyers, noting that almost a fifth (18 per cent) of homes listed on the site had had their asking price cut by more than 5%.

Zoopla found that landlords are continuing to look to sell off their portfolios, with more than one in 10 homes listed for sale having been previously rented out. That is down however on the 14%peak seen in 2020, driven by the pandemic.

The site noted that historically around half of these homes return to the rental market, either because they have failed to find a buyer or have been purchased by another landlord, though more recently that proportion has dropped to around a third.

Don’t get carried away

Richard Donnell, executive director at Zoopla, noted that recent months had seen the combination of falling interest rates and a strong labour market bringing more buyers and sellers into the market. 

He continued: “Sellers shouldn’t get carried away by more positive data on the housing market and need to price their homes realistically if they are serious about moving home in 2023. Homebuyers remain price sensitive with one eye firmly on the outlook for the economy, the cost of living and the trajectory of mortgage rates which appear likely to edge higher in the coming weeks.”

Activity among new buyers is leading to the highest viewing numbers seen in the last six years, according to Guy Gittins, CEO of Foxtons Estate Agents.

He added: “In fact, our buyer numbers year-to-date are tracking very closely with the buyer numbers this time last year, which most people would refer to as the most buoyant market we’ve seen since 2016. Our growing pipeline of business gives us every expectation that the rest of this year will continue along this positive track.”