House Sales Up 14.8% on 2023 as Mortgage Rates Fall

7th Feb 2024
Matthew Smith
Sales

The number of agreed UK property sales until the last Sunday of January (28th) is 8.35% higher than a year ago, and tumbling mortgage costs have encouraged buyers and sellers to return to the property market.

There is therefore a more buoyant picture for the UK property market in the first four weeks of January 2024 compared with the same timeframe in 2023.

Every UK region has seen an increase in the number of properties selling subject to contract (SSTC) in January 24 vs January 23; the most significant rise was found in Inner London, which was up 25.14% year-on-year, followed by the South-East, at 20.02%, the South-West at 16.18%. Most other regions (West Midlands, Outer London, North-West, Yorkshire, Ulster, East Anglia, Wales, East Midlands, and the North-East) increased by between 12% and 15%. The smallest rise was in Scotland at 4.45%.

Supply and Sales are growing

As well as increased property sales, the supply of UK properties on the market is 13.95% higher than a year ago. January’s figures showed 592,574 properties for sale, versus 519,987 for sale in January 2023.

Net sales (sales agreed less sale fall throughs) paint an even better picture, with a rise of 14.8%. As of January 28th, 55,459 net UK home sales were recorded since the same date last year, with the previous 12 months recording 48,325 net sales.

Other positives in the Chester market

Growing optimism is evident among prospective buyers and sellers as mortgage interest rates, which saw a significant rise in 2023, have started to fall in the last month or so. By the end of December, inflation had fallen to 4%, down sharply from a peak of 11.1% in October 2022 and considerably lower than the Bank of England's anticipated 4.6%.

Additionally, average mortgage rates have dipped to their lowest point since early June, with some banks and building societies reducing mortgage rates to below 4% for customers with large deposits.

Even with this upswing in property market activities, price levels are likely to remain stable, and the market will continue to favour buyers due to ongoing mortgage affordability issues and the still relatively high-interest rates.

The reduction in mortgage rates has undoubtedly rejuvenated buyer interest and transactions, particularly after a slowdown in the latter half of 2023, when many prospective movers paused their plans. This resurgence is expected to help increase the number of properties sold, which, at one million, were at an 11-year low in 2023. 

However, this trend is unlikely to lead to a significant increase in house prices in 2024 because the market remains advantageous for buyers. Sellers eager to move in 2024 might find encouragement in these initial signs of increased activity, and buyers’ focus on value means that any undue optimism on the part of sellers could hold back the current property market recovery. 

There are also warnings that the uncertainties often associated with a general election year inhibit the property market, as buyers and sellers become more cautious in their decisions in the lead up to voting at the polls.

In short, this is the time to be realistic with your pricing if you’re going to put your Chester home on the market.

Consequences and Thoughts for Chester's Property Market

For Chester home sellers: We are transitioning into a market where sellers must be more strategic, flexible, and patient, so it would help if you braced yourself to expect your home to be on the market for longer with an extended marketing period. Realistic pricing is even more vital than ever

Chester home buyers should ask themselves: ‘What are the challenges and opportunities?’ Some homes will still have bidding wars, yet you will have the luxury of choice and time with others.

External influences - from global economic trends to inflation and interest rate repercussions - could all cast shadows on the Chester property market. The pre-election Budget will no doubt affect the property market, as will everything going on ice in the three or four weeks up to the election itself.

Delving Deeper: Strategies and Tactics to Sell Your Chester Home

Given the property market's temperature, here are more granular insights:

Sellers: We've already mentioned that pricing is absolutely key to finding the right buyer, but the way you market your home to make it stand out is also vital. Features like video/virtual tours, specialised social media campaigns, and interactive property listings could all make a difference in what is a cooling market. 

Buyers: Again, there is more than one market. The competition will heat up if you are looking for the type of property everyone wants. Having your mortgage pre-approval in place will give you an advantage over other buyers. Also, it is worth being open to widening your search radius to spot bargains others could miss. On the other hand, Chester home buyers can exert more power in negotiations in a less competitive market, from offer price to extras (e.g. carpets or fixtures and fittings). Don’t forget -

81% of sellers are also buyers

This means that what you might lose from selling in a buyers' market means you gain when buying.

As we progress through the second month of 2024, the Chester property market offers both challenges and opportunities for Chester's buyers and sellers alike. Understanding the market nuances is vital if you are a Chester first-time buyer, an existing homeowner looking to move, a seasoned property buy-to-let investor, or someone looking to relocate.

Stay adaptable, stay informed and remember that, as always, your home-moving story is as much about the journey as the destination.