The number of property sales continued to decline at the end of last year, while more properties are selling for less than expected, a new report suggests.
The report is the latest snapshot of the state of the UK property market and has been published by estate agents’ professional body Propertymark.
It said there had been a 28 per cent reduction in the number of new properties put on the market last month.
And at the same time, the number of registered buyers decreased by 31 percent.
The number of property sales continued to decline at the end of last year, according to Propertymark
On average, five homes were put up for sale per real estate agency in December, compared to six in November (rounded to 4.6 and 6.4 respectively).
The number of completed sales also fell, with the report showing it continued to fall to just four for each estate agency in December, compared to six the previous month.
This drop in demand helps explain the slight increase in the percentage of agents reporting homes are selling for less than the asking price.
There was also a slight decrease in the number of agents reporting that properties were selling for the asking price.
The average number of potential new buyers registered per agency fell from 49 in November to 34 in December, according to Propertymark.
Estate agents have described December as a “gloomy” month, but a new picture is emerging as 2024 begins with a notable increase in the number of buyers now signing up.
Alex Lyle, of estate agent Antony Roberts, said: “Last year we saw a real return to seasonality. December tends to be quieter as we battle through Christmas, there are few new buyers, little new inventory and people who are toying with the idea of moving sit back and wait for the new year.
“There was little good news before Christmas, apart from a further suspension of the base rate from the Bank of England. It was the start of something, but not big enough to motivate buyers and sellers, as lenders hadn’t really started cutting their mortgage rates.
“If you had asked sellers in December how confident they were of finding a buyer, they would have been pretty pessimistic about their prospects.
“Chances are they have been in the market for a while, as few choose to launch in December. It is therefore likely that their property has been for sale since September or October, when the market was busier. By December, if they haven’t sold by then, maybe they think their chances have diminished.
“It should be noted that the situation is very different since the start of the year, with a significant increase in buyer registrations and a sharp increase in activity which means that our agents’ diaries are full.”
And Nathan Emerson, of Propertymark, said: “December marks the end of an interesting and challenging year in the property market.
“Across the economy, interest rates have stabilized, but inflationary concerns remain and GDP growth has been anemic.
“In response to these and other factors, house prices have fallen in some areas.”
Its latest figures show the average house price fell to £301,613 in November, from £305,148 in October.
Estate agents described December as a “gloomy” month, but said a new, more positive picture was emerging this year.
Propertymark said the average house price fell to £301,613 in November, from £305,148 in October.
Mr. Emerson added: “In the residential sales sector, we have reached the bottom of the seasonal trend that begins in the fall and extends through Christmas.
“Key supply and demand indicators, such as the number of registered buyers and the number of new sales instructions, are at their lowest points of the year.
“As we approach 2024, pressures remain on property prices, and further adjustments are needed to bring valuations in line with market expectations.
“Looking ahead to January, we can expect a dynamic start to the year, whether or not this determines the pace of the year as a whole will depend on the stability of the economy as a whole and the actions of policymakers .”
In December, the Nationwide Building Society separately reported that house prices finished 2023 down 1.8% from last year.
It said the typical house in Britain was then worth £259,157, almost 4.5% less than the all-time high recorded in late summer 2022.
While house prices have only fallen slightly over the past 12 months, the number of homes bought and sold has fallen sharply in 2023.
The total number of transactions has been around 10 percent lower than pre-pandemic levels over the past six months, according to Nationwide, with those involving a mortgage falling by around 20 percent, reflecting the impact of rising borrowing costs.
However, fixed mortgage rates continue to decline from their summer peaks.