Demand in UK fell at start of 2019 over Brexit uncertainty

Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Estate agents in the United Kingdom saw demand from house hunters fall in January as buyers continue to adopt a wait and see attitude due to protracted Brexit negotiations, the latest sector report suggests.

Overall the number of house hunters registered per estate agent branch fell from 304 in December to 297 in the first month of 2019, the data from the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) shows.

It means that year in year demand has fallen by 19per cent, from 367 in January 2018, as buyers hold off on making any decisions in light of the current political climate.

The data also shows that the supply of available properties for sale fell by 14per cent in January from 42 in December to 36 per member branch, unchanged compared to January 2018.

But first time buyers took advantage of weakened demand and the number of sales made to the group increased for the second month running, from 245 in December to 26per cent in January, the highest recorded since July 2018 when it was 30per cent.

Following a dip in the number of sales agreed per branch over the last few months, this figure increased in January, from an average of five per branch in December to seven but year on year the number of sales agreed per branch remained the same.

“January is usually the time where we’d expect to see house hunters flood the market following the festive lull; however, this didn’t happen last month,’ said Mark Hayward, NAEA chief executive.

‘It’s normal that during a period of uncertainty, buyers put their plans on hold, and until there’s further clarity on what Brexit will mean for the market, we expect the level of house buyers to remain stagnant,” he explained.

“However, it’s clear that people still want to sell their homes, and there’s properties available for those looking to move. While first time buyers are taking advantage of this situation, those hoping to secure a property may well find the market is leaning in their favour, as the number of sales agreed per branch return to the level seen at the start of 2018,” he added.

“Although sellers are usually keen to hold off until they secure the right price, when the market is slow, they are typically more willing to negotiate. After all, when demand falls, and supply remains the same, it’s a buyers’ market,” he concluded.

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