According to new figures from NAEA Propertymark, the number of house hunters dropped by a massive 16% in February 2018. Just 309 new registrations were made in each area last month, compared to 367 in January. A year ago the figure was an average of 425, indicating an alarming trend in the number of people looking to buy.
The number of available properties has also dipped, but there has been an increase in the number of homes selling at asking price.
On the plus side, first time buyers are on the up, with sales to newbies at their highest point in three years. The government’s first time buyer stamp duty relief scheme has had a significant impact on the number of sales to people taking their first steps on the property ladder, with figures reaching 29 per cent.
This time last year the number of first time buyer sales was 22 per cent, and the stamp duty scheme appears to be the driver. Battersea estate agent, Eden Harper said, “It’s good to see an increase in first time buyers. Although the overall sales have been down at the start of this year, there has been a clear increase in the number of purchases made by younger buyers. In a market that has been notoriously difficult for people to get their first steps on the ladder, it’s nice to see that government incentives seem to be helping.”
Estate agents outside of London had noticed that first time buyers had been avoiding making purchases in order to save as much as possible and make the most of the relief the scheme provides.
However, Andrew Reeves said, “The cost of buying is still very high and many first timers appear to be struggling to save enough money for a deposits. With an increase in living costs and inflation at 2.5 per cent, home ownership is still a distant dream for thousands of people. The stamp duty scheme certainly helps though, which is encouraging to see.”
Although the overall sales figures have not been great for the first few months of 2018, the government’s stamp duty scheme is a step in the right direction for younger house hunters up and down the country. Only time will tell if the dream of home ownership once again becomes accessible to everyone, but at least we are making some headway towards affordable housing.
Robert Holmes summarises, “Young people need incentives to buy rather than staying with parents or renting, so it’s good to see that some people seem to have been helped by the stamp duty scheme already. As we move further through 2018 we hope to see an increase in overall sales and new client registrations too.”