House Price Index

January 2022

Early-bird sellers benefit from busiest ever start to a New Year

  • The average price of property coming to market jumps by 0.3% this month (+£852) to £341,019, which is 7.6% higher than in January 2021, the highest annual rate of price growth recorded by Rightmove since May 2016
  • First-time buyer asking prices hit a new record of £214,176 after a monthly jump of 1.4%
  • Strong demand and continuing low numbers of available homes for sale set up the housing market frenzy to continue into the start of 2022, with early-bird sellers benefitting from increased buyer competition:
    • The number of buyers enquiring about homes is 15% higher than the same time last year
    • The number of available homes for sale per estate agency branch drops again to a new record low of just 12
    • As a result, competition among buyers is almost double what it was at this time last year
  • However, there are early signs that more property choice is on its way, with the first working week of 2022 being the busiest start of the year ever for people requesting agents to come out and value their homes:
    • The number of home valuation requests in the first working week of 2022 is 44% up on the same period last year, and 48% up on the same period in 2020

2021’s housing market was defined by people’s sustained desire to move coupled with decreasing numbers of homes for sale, and this continues as we enter a busy New Year. The average price of property coming to market rises by 0.3% this month (+£852), to £341,019. Asking prices traditionally see a rise in January, though this month’s figure is compared with an unusual drop in January last year as the rush to beat the March stamp duty deadline started to abate. The result is that national average asking prices are now 7.6% higher than this time last year, an annual rate of growth not seen by Rightmove since the 8.3% recorded back in May 2016. The jump in average asking prices this month is driven by homes in the ”top of the ladder” and “first-time buyer” sectors, with first-time-buyer type homes hitting a new record average asking price of £214,176.

Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s Director of Property Data comments: “New Year sellers and buyers have been quick off the mark this year, with Rightmove recording the highest ever number of Boxing Day sellers coming to market. These early-bird sellers who got themselves ready to come to market are now benefitting from the busiest start to the year that we’ve ever recorded, with the number of prospective buyers enquiring about homes up 15% on this time last year. People who have made it their New Year’s resolution to move are finding asking prices are within just one per cent of the record from October last year, and are at the highest level ever recorded for first-time-buyer type homes. All of the signs suggest that prices are likely to continue to rise until more choice is available. Three regions are in most urgent need of new supply, the East Midlands, South West and South East of England, as they are now at unsustainable rates of annual price growth above 10%.”

The number of homes available for sale per estate agency branch has hit another record low of 12 properties, down by two from last month. The few homes that are on the market continue to be snapped up at speed by determined buyers, with the average time to find a buyer in December 2021 being more than two weeks quicker than in the same period the previous year. While the low number of available homes may appear daunting for buyers still looking to make 2022 their year to move, there are early signs of more property choice coming to market soon. Encouragingly, the number of requests to an estate agent to value a property, traditionally the first part of a seller’s journey in coming to market, was up by 44% in the first working week of 2022 compared to the same period in 2021, and up by 48% when compared to 2020. This first working week was the busiest ever opening to a year for home valuation requests, and the first working day, 4th January, saw the fifth-highest number of valuation requests in a single day that Rightmove has ever recorded.

Competition among buyers for available homes also remains strong as we move into 2022, with 15% more enquiries from would-be buyers to estate agents than at the same time last year. With both more enquiries from buyers and fewer properties available, the overall level of buyer interest per available property is almost double what it was at the start of 2021, which was itself a very active market. As a result, more than 70% of the properties currently on estate agents’ books have already been sold, leaving less than 30% still available to buy.

Bannister says: “It’s clear that the trends which defined the market in 2021 have carried over into this year. That being said, we are seeing early signs of a better balanced market in 2022. The number of requests from would-be sellers to agents to value their home has continued to increase from the end of last year and was at one of its highest points ever on the first working day of this year. While this potential new supply will take a little while to appear on the market, it’s an encouraging sign of more choice for buyers in the coming months. The speed at which we’ve seen the fresh choice that has come to market being snapped up by eager buyers over the past 18 months is a reminder to buyers to move fast and book a viewing with the estate agent as soon as a property that could be the one for you comes to market. Almost 40% of people enquiring about a home who have a property to sell say that they are yet to put it on the market. In the current market, where they are competing against other buyers who are able to move more quickly, this is likely to mean they’ll miss out on the home they want. To put yourself in the best possible position to proceed, you should become a ‘power buyer’, by making sure your current home is on the market or preferably sold subject to contract first, before starting the search for your new home.”

Agents’ Views

Roger Wilkinson, Managing Director at Wilkinson Grant & Co in Exeter, said: Despite a slow-down in activity over the festive period, Covid uncertainty, an interest rate rise and creeping cost of living, 2022 has picked-up where 2021 left off – with continued high levels of buyer demand and not enough homes available to choose from. Having experienced house price growth in some Devon hotspots of as much as 20% in the last eighteen months, the signals are that prices will continue to rise this coming year, but a new mood of buyer realism will slow such rampant house price growth. The supply of newly built homes here in Exeter and East Devon in particular, continues to stimulate healthy levels of market activity and we expect house prices in this area to rise by around 5% in 2022.”

Chris Pearson, Director at Pearson Keehan in Hove, said: “The January property market has started extremely strong, which indicates buyers and sellers are starting to gain more confidence in finding their next home, with many more properties expected to become available in 2022.

“In the local area, Brighton & Hove continues to be as popular as ever, with an influx of buyers relocating from London and the surrounding areas looking for a lifestyle change. These numbers are continuing to increase since working from home has become more of an option. 

“At present the demand certainly outweighs the supply, however we are optimistic that sellers are slowly returning to the market, as we have already seen an uplift in requests for property valuations in January. With competitive lending also still available it bodes well for the number of expected transactions, and we believe it to be another busy year ahead.”

The House Price Index is the largest, most up-to-date monthly sample of residential property asking prices. The index monitors changes in house prices both annually and monthly, providing a comprehensive view on the current state of the property market in England, Scotland and Wales.

Based on circa 95% of newly marketed property, the Rightmove House Price Index is the leading indicator of residential property prices in England, Scotland and Wales.

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