Country houses for sale

The British property market ‘is unsustainable’, says head of estate agents’ association

The gap between demand and supply is widening, according to head of the NAEA, with October seeing an average of 24 buyers for every property.

A professional body that represents estate agents from more than 12,000 offices across the country has raised the alarm on the state of the British property market, calling it ‘unsustainable’.

The culprit, according to NAEA Propertymark, is a dramatic imbalance between supply, which is the lowest on record and a massive 46% lower than October 2020, and demand, which is continuing to rise and now stands 12% higher than in September this year.

On average, each estate agent branch has 511 buyers registered and only 21 properties on their books — which works out to 24 buyers for every property.

In particular, agents have seen a rise in fresh demand from buy-to-let investors, while first-time buyers remain steady at about 25%. Sales agreed have decreased by 32% to 8 per branch, although this is in line with pre-Covid levels.

‘Figures from October show a continuing picture for the housing market which is unsustainable,’ says Nathan Emerson, Chief Executive of Propertymark.

‘Estate agents across the country are working with some of the lowest levels of available homes we have ever seen, yet demand from buyers is not easing.’

The Christmas holidays — a traditionally quiet period for property sales — should bring some respite, but, notes Mr Emerson, ‘with so many buyers still hungry for their new home, sellers would do well not to put moving plans on hold for too long.

‘What we need to see in the new year is a gentle levelling out, which could be driven by new-year motivations delivering new sellers or changing interest rates taking some of the mounting energy from buyers’.

That said, the gap between supply and demand isn’t necessarily translating into over-the-top offers. In October, a little more than half the sales were agreed at the original asking price, and the number of those agreed at over the asking price dropped to 21% (from 27% in September).