The housing market emerged from summer with estate agents welcoming an increase in the number of properties on the market – and reporting that the traditional summer “dip” was less severe than expected. For the first time since April 2009, the number of properties available to buy rose, from 59 in July to 64 in August, according to the National Association of Estate Agents.
This suggests that as the market picks up the stock of properties should increase as a result of buyers working their way through the system. As expected during the summer holiday period, estate agents recorded a fall in the number of people looking to buy a property, from 292 in July to 238 in August – the lowest number of any month in 2009. However despite that fall, sales remained relatively strong, with the average agent selling eight properties (7.6) in August – compare to nine (8.6) in July, notably stronger than any month in 2008.
A year ago in August 2008 the average agent sold just five properties. In August 2009, 36 per cent of sales were made to first time buyers, compared to 22 per cent in July 2009 and just eight per cent in August 2008.
Gary Smith, President of the NAEA, said: “If we had been told in August last year that in 12 months time agents would be selling eight properties on average per branch we would have been delighted, given the dire forecasts at the time. “August always sees a dip in activity, regardless of the wider economic picture, and we believe that indications are that the UK housing market could emerge stronger and more quickly than previously considered possible. We look forward to our September statistics confirming the trend.
“Particularly pleasing is the rise in the supply of housing and the continued presence of first time buyers in the market as they often represent the essential foundations of sales chains. “If a recovery is beginning as we anticipate, it presents a key opportunity for the Government to persuade major lenders to manage and sustain it for the benefit not just of the housing market, but for the UK economy as a whole.”