The UK housing market is experiencing a notable increase in activity at the start of 2024, with signs pointing towards a robust year for property transactions. According to Rightmove’s latest data, there has been a significant surge in both buyer and seller engagement compared to last year.
In a striking development, average asking prices for new sellers jumped by 1.3% (£4,571), reaching £359,748. This marks the largest increase for this period since 2020. Despite this rise, average prices are still 0.7% lower than the same time last year.
Rightmove’s January 2024 House Price Index (HPI) offers further insights. It reveals that the number of properties entering the market has risen by 15%, coupled with a 5% increase in buyer demand. Moreover, the first week of the year saw a 20% hike in sales agreements compared to the same period last year, reflecting a resurgence in buyer confidence.
Tim Bannister, Rightmove’s Director of Property Science, comments, “After a stop-start market in 2023, the initial signs suggest a smoother year for movers in 2024.” He cautions, however, against overly enthusiastic pricing, given the looming General Election and its potential impact on market activity.
Nathan Emerson, Chief Executive of Propertymark, notes the positive trend despite economic challenges, expressing hope that lower interest rates could stimulate further market activity.
The sentiment is echoed by Chris Rowson, Managing Director at Sharman Quinney in Cambridgeshire, who observes a promising start to the year despite the cold weather. Paul Bayliss, Director at The Square Room Estate Agents, highlights the impact of falling mortgage rates on buyer confidence, especially among first-time buyers and those looking to upsize.
As the market gears up for a dynamic year, industry experts remain cautiously optimistic, closely monitoring the influence of political and economic factors on the UK’s housing landscape.