Rightmove’s early indicators of housing market activity in 2012 show that interest in buying is strong despite the lack of mortgage finance, though the willingness or ability of new sellers to come to market remains weak.
Search activity on Rightmove during the first 10 days of 2012 reached new record heights, up by 27% on the same period in 2011, as prospective movers intensively research the market.
Miles Shipside, director of Rightmove comments:
“Old records are being shattered as search activity is up by a staggering 27% on this time last year. Potential buyers and sellers are looking more often and researching more thoroughly. In areas where there is a lot of property up for sale, buyers are looking hard for properties that tempt them with something really special in terms of value, potential, location or quality of finish.”
There have been more than 44 million property searches on Rightmove during the first ten days of 2012. While this doesn’t necessarily indicate a surge in proceedable buyer numbers, it does highlight a strong pent-up demand to move and is also a reflection that value-seeking buyers who can proceed are taking extra care to research the market. It also emphasises the fact that, were a larger number of mortgages available to the market, the interest, confidence and necessity to buy would lift the current muted sales transaction numbers from the virtual subsistence level of the last three years.
The number of properties coming to market this month equates to an average of less than one new listing per branch per week. This is the lowest recorded in the ten years of Rightmove’s House Price Index and around half of pre-credit crunch levels. Agents report prospective sellers are being deterred by a combination of a shortage of confidence, lack of choice of property to buy and restrictive mortgage lending.
“The increased market fragmentation caused by the credit crunch means that success in selling now requires a very careful and complex micro-market analysis, rather than a wishful price-punt to see what happens. There can be hotspots and blackspots by property type within the same geographic location depending on local buyer confidence, demographics and their ability to obtain a mortgage, so doing your research and taking expert advice are critical.”
Depending on local market conditions, there will be differing pressures on the direction of prices. The lack of property coming to market in some areas will help to underpin new sellers’ asking prices in those locations, especially as estate agents compete to attract fresh stock for the new year. January often sees the beginning of a ‘spring bounce’ in the asking prices of properties coming to market, and there is again evidence of this with an increase of 1.4% in the first week of 2012. This is masked within the overall monthly price fall of 0.8%.