Asking prices rise as sellers start 2024 with 'confident pricing'
Buyers and sellers, along with their agents, appear to have started the new year with renewed confidence as Rightmove data shows average prices rose by the largest amount since 2020 as of early January.
Rightmove’s latest house price index shows average new seller asking prices rose by 1.3% month-on-month to £359,748 but values remain 0.7% lower than at this time last year.
There has been some tentatively promising activity in the first week of the year, markedly stronger than a year ago, as more prospective buyers and sellers seem to have the confidence to get their 2024 moving plans started early, Rightmove suggests.
The number of new properties coming onto the market for sale is 15% higher than in the same period last year, according to its report.
Buyer demand in the first week of 2024 is also 5% higher than in the same period last year. However, competitive pricing from sellers is still vital, with the number of new properties coming to market outpacing the rise in demand, Rightmove said.
The number of sales agreed is also 20% higher than during the first week of last year.
Since Christmas, Rightmove said it has seen nine of its ten busiest days on record for people getting a mortgage in principle to see what they can afford to borrow.
Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s director of property science, said: “After a stop-start market in 2023, the initial signs suggest a smoother year for movers in 2024. More new sellers are now entering the market, and with more confident pricing.
“While the increased level of buyer activity that we’re also seeing may justify some of this increased pricing confidence from sellers, it’s important that sellers who are keen to find a buyer don’t get carried away with New Year enthusiasm when setting their price expectations. Elevated mortgage rates and the wider cost-of-living squeeze are still limiting buyers’ spending power. Accurate and realistic pricing for their local area is the recipe for success for sellers looking to get moving in 2024, and it’s been proven that over-optimistic pricing makes a move much less likely.”
Meanwhile, Zoopla's latest research reveals that the number of buyers out home hunting has shot up 10% compared with this time last year.
House price falls are starting to slow as sales agreed rise by 17% and the average UK home is worth 18% more than it was in March 2020, the portal said.
The busier market is echoed by comparison website reallymoving.
It said new registrations for home move services, including conveyancing, surveying and removals, were 73% higher in the first week of January 2024 than the same period last year.
Rob Houghton, chief executive of reallymoving,said: “It’s encouraging to see a burst of home mover activity at the start of this year. People will only put their lives on hold for so long, and while the cost of borrowing is still a significant issue, it appears that many of those who held off in 2023 are now making the decision to go ahead, encouraged by the resilience of prices and some downward movement in mortgage rates as lenders compete for business.
“We don’t expect to see a full recovery in transaction volumes this year and prices may dip further before we see a return to sustained growth. But the market has proved to be more resilient than many expected, households are slowly adjusting to higher borrowing costs and with housebuilding volumes still falling far short of the required level, early signs suggest that 2024 could be a better year for the housing market.”