Early-bird buyers believe the market is right for making a move

Posted on
Early-bird buyers believe the market is right for making a move

Buyers and sellers are seeing movement in the housing market as 2024 gets underway but there is still price sensitivity.

Research from property portal Rightmove reveals average new seller asking prices have risen by 0.9 per cent (+£3,091) this month to £362,839.

This is in line with the seasonal rise experts would expect to see in February.

Perhaps more noteworthy, however, is that average prices are now up by 0.1 per cent compared to this time last year, following annual falls in every month since August 2023.

The number of sales agreed in the first six weeks of the year is 16 per cent higher than in the same period last year.

This indicates that early-bird buyers feel that 2024 offers the right market conditions to move, and they are already seizing the opportunity.

However, the market remains price-sensitive, with many buyers very budget-conscious.

Sellers who are over-optimistic and think that the more positive market sentiment will let them try asking for too high a price, risk being left on the shelf and missing out on the important spring moving season, according to Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s director of property science.

“We said that February would be an important indicator for the year ahead, and the question was whether the Rightmove Boxing Day bounce in buyer activity would keep its spring into March or lose momentum.

“It’s proved to be the former, with the number of sales agreed continuing to considerably outstrip last year.

“Early-bird Boxing Day buyers got a head start in cherry picking from a record level of new property choice and have now been joined by many other buyers also believing that 2024 offers the right market conditions to move.

“Mortgage rates have fallen considerably from their peak and are now remaining broadly stable after the uncertainty of late 2022 and 2023.

“Momentum to move in 2024 is continuing to build, but prospective sellers mustn’t get carried away.

“Buyers now have more choice of property for sale and many are still very price-sensitive, with mortgage rates remaining elevated.

“Sellers who are serious about moving this year would be well-advised to ride this wave of increased buyer confidence with an attractive asking price before any pre-election jitters or unexpected events dampen the momentum,” he says.

He adds: “There continue to be reasons for cautious optimism as we settle into 2024, with encouraging activity levels and a more stable housing market.

“While some would-be buyers will continue to be affected by elevated mortgage rates and major affordability constraints, many other prospective buyers who can afford to do so, have acted fast and demonstrated their belief that 2024 is their year to get moving.

“It is still early days for 2024, with a budget, general election and no doubt more global events still to play out.

“With the budget up next, the government will be considering a range of options to support movers and we expect to hear more policy rumours as the date approaches.

“Rightmove’s whole-of-market data shows that it’s the first-time-buyer segment who could use the most support this spring, and well-thought-out initiatives to help to get more would-be first-time buyers on to the ladder would be welcome.”