Property and mortgages

Buyers take control of the housing market

Buyers seem to be in the property market’s driving seat, with their negotiating skills meaning that nearly three quarters of homes changing hands last month were sold for less than the asking price.

According to the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), 73% of homes were sold for less than the asking price during January. The equivalent figure a year ago was 56%.

The NAEA said the extra negotiating power of buyers could be behind a more buoyant market. Each estate-agency branch sold an average of eight properties in January, as opposed to five per branch a month earlier.

“The autumn statement’s stamp-duty reforms have already created movement,” said NAEA managing director Mark Hayward.

“Sellers may have hiked up prices to take advantage of buyers’ increased budgets. But it seems buyers are counteracting this by negotiating prices back down to original asking price opposed to paying over the odds for their dream home, creating a real buyers’ market.”

However, both supply and demand have fallen since the start of the year, indicating that the market is cooling off.

“The housing market is based solely on sentiment and so if consumers feel an ounce of uncertainty, this will result in a temporary lull,” Mr Hayward said.

“With the general election on its way, we’re starting to see the political parties stowing up policies around housing, which is undoubtedly causing uncertainty in the property market.”