House prices UK: Sellers ‘holding back’ amid Brexit – but buyers still 'serious'

The latest Rightmove Index suggests that the usual ‘Autumn Bounce’ – the spurt of activity usually seen in September and October as home movers aim to complete on their transactions in time for Christmas – has failed to materialise so far this year in many parts of the UK. Unsurprisingly, the uncertainty surrounding is believed to be the main cause, with the overall number of potential sellers listing their property reduced by 13.5 per cent when compared to the same time last year. Considering that there is a significant lack of property available to buy in many areas, asking prices are also suffering amid the ongoing political decision, with Rightmove reporting the lowest monthly rise in October since 2008. As it stands, average asking prices increased by just 0.6 per cent over the last month, compared to an average rise of 1.6 per cent in the month of October over the last ten years.

In a strange Brexit-induced paradox, thousands of potential sellers are holding back compared to this time a year ago, though the number of buyers agreeing purchases is virtually the same

Miles Shipside, Rightmove

However, there is some good news; in contrast, and a positive boost for those who are serious about selling, buyer activity appears to be holding steady.

The number of sales agreed is virtually unchanged on the same period a year ago at just 0.5 per cent down when compared to October last year.

Rightmove also suggests that those who are selling are finding that their sales are more likely to proceed successfully to completion.

In other words, the buyers who are out there are committed to getting a deal done, providing the price they are paying is reasonable.

Miles Shipside, director of Rightmove commented: “In a strange Brexit-induced paradox, thousands of potential sellers are holding back compared to this time a year ago, though the number of buyers agreeing purchases is virtually the same.

house prices uk sales rightmove price index

House prices UK: Latest Rightmove data shows there is less on the market – but sales are completing (Image: Getty Images)

“Ironically, this means that those who are coming to market have a better chance of selling, so while some would-be sellers are being put off, it’s actually a good time to sell.

“Those who are ignoring the Brexit disruption have less competition from stay-away sellers, and their prospective buyers have less negotiating power, with a reduced choice of suitable alternatives.”

Miles continued: “Rightmove data shows that the percentage of sales agreed that have fallen through so far this year is the lowest since 2015.

“Sellers who are coming to market are fewer but more serious, and buyers seem to be serious too, with the number of sales agreed almost unchanged.

“Both parties are then working harder to successfully guide their precious ‘subject to contract’ sale through to successful completion.”

house prices uk sales rightmove price index

House prices UK: Buyers are faced with less choice as sellers stay away from the market (Image: Getty Images)

Marc von Grundherr, director of London lettings and estate agent Benham and Reeves observed: “While the market is more subdued than usual, this is of course going to be the case ahead of our supposed EU exit at the end of the month. 

“This uncertainty has evidently caused many sellers to hesitate and sit tight, however a healthy level of sales are still transacting, and this is proof that the UK property market is yet to disappear down the Brexit abyss.”

Nick Leeming, Chairman of Jackson-Stops also remained optimistic, saying: “Although the UK is yet to experience an Autumn bounce it doesn’t mean one isn’t on its way.

“Today’s data shows that sales aren’t falling through as regularly as they have been, which suggests that the market is currently being driven by must-movers.

“Despite Rightmove’s figures showing that stock is currently lower across the nation, once the UK does leave the EU, whether that be on the 31st October or otherwise, I expect to see an increase in listings and greater activity levels, with the prospect of a modest uplift in property prices in the new year.”

stamp duty land tax rates

House prices UK: Buyers have to pay Stamp Duty – after already paying a deposit and legal fees (Image: NC)

That all said, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that the ongoing political uncertainty is having an impact. Former RICS residential chairman Jeremy Leaf suggested that the outcome of yet more wrangling in the House of Commons over the weekend probably won’t assist consumer sentiment in the short term when it comes to the housing market.

He observed: “Many buyers and sellers are sitting on their hands. Discretionary, speculative buyers have become an endangered species which helps to explain lack of the usual autumn ‘bounce’. Saturday’s vote may only reinforce the uncertainty unless the position is clarified quickly – but we’ve been there before.”

The message for potential sellers then? There is a market and needs-driven buyers are still very much in evidence, particularly in regions such as the Midlands, North, Scotland and Wales which have seen local property markets continue to perform well since the beginning of the year, seemingly unaffected by the ongoing Brexit farrago.

If priced realistically and reasonably, in these areas there is still a good chance of securing a buyer, regardless of the current political headwinds.

As Miles Shipside concluded: “Many people feel that finding their ideal property is a strong foundation for finding their happy at home, so it’s worth fighting for that comforting certainty in these uncertain times.”

Follow Louisa on Twitter: @louisafletcher

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