Country houses for sale

The wave of homes set to come to the market on Boxing Day

The Boxing Day bounce, how the rental market is ‘starting to turn’, plus what UK homeowners and potential buyers searched for every 23 seconds this year: Annabel Dixon runs through what you need to know in the world of bricks and mortar.

Had a busy week? We know the feeling, so we’ve cherry picked five property-related stories that have hit the news in recent days.

Housing market set for Boxing Day boost

Boxing Day has always been a busy spell in the housing market, as a new wave of buyers typically start looking for a home — and aspiring sellers try to capture their attention.

But while the bump has always there, it seems it’s become increasingly popular in recent years. Rightmove figures show that the number of homes brought to the market on Boxing Day last year was 173% higher than it was in 2019, and 46% higher than it was in 2021. And it seems that the buyers were there to match them, though: buyers contacting estate agents about homes for sale rose 250% on Boxing Day last year.

So what does this all mean? If you’re planning to get in to the housing market — either as a buyer or a seller — over the festive period, be ready for things to get very busy, very quickly.

‘This year’s upturn will be eagerly anticipated by those who are keen to sell, who may have been holding off due to the disorderly mortgage market earlier this year, ‘ says Tim Bannister of Rightmove.

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‘Many will also be watching the scale of the upturn as an early sign of building momentum as we progress through the winter and into the important spring selling season and year ahead.’

The 2023 housing market in numbers

As 2023 draws to a close, Zoopla has revealed that UK homeowners and potential buyers searched for a mortgage-related term on Google almost every 23 seconds this year.

The portal’s round-up of 2023 also shows that:

  • first-time buyer-related searches on Google halved in 2023
  • the average time to sell a property was 34 days, up from 25 days last year
  • three-bedroom homes remain the most in-demand type of property
  • seven in 10 of the most viewed properties for sale in 2023 were sold for £350,000 and below.

Record rental growth (and some welcome news for renters)

Renters in Great Britain have collectively forked out a whopping £85.6bn in rent this year. That’s more than twice what it was in 2010, and also £8bn more than in 2022, according to Hamptons.

Renters in London spent a record £32.1bn on rent this year, more than the total amount paid by renters in the north of England, Midlands, Wales and Scotland combined (£29.4bn).

Rents on new tenancies last month were up 10.2% year-on-year, making it the strongest growth in any November since the estate agent’s records began in 2014.

But in welcome news for renters, Zoopla reckons that the tide is turning when it comes to soaring rents.

The portal says that rents on new tenancies are 9.7% higher over the last 12 months, down from 11.9% a year ago. And it expects rental growth to halve over 2024 to 5%, the lowest rate since September 2021.

Richard Donnell, executive director at Zoopla says: ‘The UK is past peak rental growth which will be welcome news to renters who have seen rents rise by almost a third (31%) over the last 3 years. London will lead the slowdown, acting as a drag on the UK growth rate.’

Asking prices in December drop

Average asking prices of homes brought to the market this month have dropped by 1.9% (£6,966) to £355,177.

Prices usually fall in December, but this month’s decline is bigger than the previous 20-year average of 1.5%, according to Rightmove.

The property portal says the drop is ‘partly driven by more new sellers looking to price below the competition now that the pendulum has swung towards a buyers’ market’.

National average asking prices are now 1.1% below this time last year.

Rightmove says there are signs of greater activity from families ‘who had put their plans on hold during the fallout from the mini-Budget’. Buyer demand for three and four-bedroom homes (excluding four-bedroom detached houses) are up by 9% compared with this time last year. In contrast, overall buyer demand is up by 6%.

Mayfair super-prime home sales ‘boom’

In a case of how the other half lives, the uber-expensive Mayfair housing market has ‘boomed’ in 2023, according to Beauchamp Estates.

Twice as many super-prime properties have changed hands for more than £10m each in Mayfair this year than in 2022.

Gary Hersham, founding director of Beauchamp Estates says: ‘The £10m-plus deals landscape in Mayfair has been dominated by American and Middle East buyers who have undertaken cash purchases and taken advantage of preferential exchange rates for dollar buyers.’