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Housing market power shifts back to buyers

Nick Cheek
Written By:
Nick Cheek

Last year saw a return to the norm as power once again shifted in favour of buyers after the ‘unprecedented’ sellers’ market finally came to a halt.

The Propertymark annual review for 2022 and outlook for 2023 showed that viewings fell 71% over the course of the year until it was only left with serious buyers. 

There was a steady stream of new instructions over the year, followed with the usual dip in December which represented a 0% change when compared to 2021. 

The number of properties for sale rose consistently over 2022, although a drop was witnessed in December. A separate poll by Propertymark suggested this was down to people taking their homes off the market after prolonged periods where they failed to secure a buyer. 

The market started out in the favour of sellers with the majority of homes selling for more than or at the asking price. By the end of the year however, this had tipped towards buyers with more homes selling for less than or at the asking price. 

Propertymark said the seller’s market in 2022 was “unprecedented” and something which had not been seen since 2013. 

Looking ahead for 2023 

Estate agents said they were worried about sellers being idealistic about the value of their homes this year, with 71% saying sellers had unrealistic expectations. Some 41% were worried about fall throughs and 48% had concerns around conveyancing times. 

Agents said increased affordability for upsizers would present an opportunity for buyers, with 22% of respondents considering this to be a boon. One in five said if sellers priced their homes more realistically, there would be the chance to sell, while 15% said a lack of housing stock would make for favourable conditions. 

On the flip side, eight in 10 agents were worried about buyers being able to obtain mortgages or meet the necessary affordability assessments. 

Possible opportunities for buyers included a drop in prices, according to 64% of those polled, while a fifth said less pressure to make decisions would be a benefit. 

Within their businesses, 57% of agents said managing customer expectations was the biggest concern for the year, while half said a lack of stock could be a problem. Some 39% pointed to chains and sales falling through, while 32% were nervous about a lack of buyer demand.  

A quarter were worried that falling house prices may put off both buyers and sellers. 

More demand for private rented homes 

Last year saw a peak in demand for private rented homes with September setting a monthly record of 147 prospective tenants per member branch. 

Coinciding with this has been a lack of rental supply, which Propertymark said propped up rents. 

The body said although there was a steady supply of demand over the year, it was not enough to match demand. 

Nathan Emerson, CEO of Propertymark, said: “The largest shift over 2022 for the sales market is in prices agreed compared to initial asking prices. Starting 2022 in a sellers’ market and ending the year back in the longer term normal of a buyers’ market. The seller’s market seen is unprecedented in our data which stretches back to 2013. 

“As for lettings, a rising population and a lack of adequate housing construction has led us to a peak of demand from home hunters looking to rent in 2022. With such a mismatch in demand and supply, it is no surprise that rents have risen most keenly in 2022.”