When it comes to property, most of the leading indicators now suggest that we are in the middle of a shift from a seller’s market to a buyer’s market.
Not only are house prices are falling, according to both the Nationwide and Halifax house price indexes, but the latest Rics survey of estate agents suggests that buyer demand and agreed sales continue to fall sharply in the face of higher mortgage rates.
Alongside a fall in housing market activity, the survey suggests house prices remain on a downward trajectory, with surveyors pointing to an acceleration in the pace of decline through August.
You’re hot then you’re cold: The proportion of available homes that are sold can massively vary from postcode to postcode
Their near-term expectations point to little prospect of any turnaround in the immediate future either.
More than two thirds of those surveyed are seeing declining house prices, with a similar proportion believing further price falls are likely as buyers affordability and confidence remains strained. Roughly half believe prices will be lower next year.
But where there is bad news for home buyers, it usually means there are opportunities for buyers.
Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former Rics residential chairman, says: ‘What we have been finding on the ground is that fewer but more serious buyers are holding sway, particularly those who are not dependant on mortgage finance and trying to identify the more motivated sellers.
‘There is no doubt either that the recent increased stability in mortgage rates and expectation that we are at, or near, the peak has encouraged some to look at what’s available on the market as those returning from holiday consider selling.’
Are you in a buyer’s or seller’s market?
Ultimately the experience of buyers and sellers will vary depending on the exact area they live in.
New data shared exclusively with This is Money by property advice website, The Advisory, has revealed the hottest and coldest local property markets across Britain, broken down by cities, counties and even postcodes.
While some areas have transformed into buyer’s markets over the past 12 months, there are also plenty of locations where sellers will likely have the upper hand in negotiations.
Its home selling ‘weather forecast,’ PropCast, looks at the proportion of properties in all UK postcodes, which are either for sale, sold or under offer, to determine the buyer demand and how easy or hard it is to sell in each given area.
The lower the proportion of homes either sold or under offer in a given postcode, the colder the market, and the easier it should be for buyers to haggle and bag a discount.
PropCast has measured buyer demand using the temperature metaphor to express a percentage: 100 degrees being the hottest and 0 degrees being the coldest.
House selling weather forecast: PropCast looks at the proportion of properties in all UK postcodes, which are either for sale, sold or under offer, to determine the buyer demand
For example, the overall temperature for the UK market this month is 41 degrees. It means of all the homes currently listed on the market, 41 per cent are either sold or under offer.
This is down from 43 per cent last month, down from 61 per cent in August last year and down from 65 per cent in August 2021.
However, PropCast enables us to zoom into specific counties and even postcodes to assess the local market.
For example, last September, in Norfolk, 56 per cent of the homes were marked as either sold or under offer. Now only 34 per cent of homes have found a buyer.
In East Riding of Yorkshire the proportion of homes selling has fallen from 55 per cent to 27 per cent.
Cooling down: All the counties across England and Wales have seen the proportion of homes on the market that are selling drop since September last year
Certain cities have also seen dramatic market shifts when comparing this September with last year.
For example, in Manchester, this time last year, 52 per cent of homes on the market were listed as either sold or under offer. Now only 24 per cent of homes are either sold or under offer in the city.
Victoria Iddon, branch manager of Bridgfords Estate Agents in Manchester said: ‘Last year when we put a property up for sale, the whole team would have to be on hand knowing the phone would melt.
Victoria Iddon, branch manager of Bridgfords estate agents in Manchester, says that some properties are struggling to sell
‘Now, we are back to traditional estate agency where the onus is on the agent to be proactive.
‘Properties are certainly still selling, but you can see a split in the market. Apartments up to £200,000 are selling well and there are a lot of first time buyers driving sales.
‘Properties between £500,000 and £800,000 are taking longer, as upsizers are waiting for better mortgage rates.’
The cities of Ripon, Canterbury and Lincoln have also seen similar swings in market sentiment. Last year, 56 per cent of homes on the market in Ripon were either sold or under offer. Now only 31 per cent of homes on the market have found a buyer.
Rise of micro markets
But even within these cities, micro markets exist that can mean the picture can be very different from one postcode to another.
For example, in the M17 postcode in Greater Manchester, which includes Sale and Salford, a whopping 95 per cent of homes on the market are unsold.
However, nearby M21, which covers the inner suburbs of Chorlton-on-Medlock, Moss Side, Hulme, Old Trafford and Ardwick is very much a seller’s market with 69 per cent of homes under offer.
The gap between the coldest and hottest markets in each given region is remarkably wide.
Cooling market: House prices may be on a general downward trajectory, but the gap between different postcodes in the same area can be remarkably wide
In the South West, PL23, which covers an area in Plymouth in Devon, is a strong buyer’s market with only 18 per cent of available properties sold.
But in the same region, BS7, a postcode district located in the south-west of the city of Bristol, is an incredibly strong seller’s market at present, with 74 per cent of homes there currently under offer or sold.
In the West Midlands, 19 per cent of the stock in B12 (a postcode area covering the south east portion of inner Birmingham) has currently found a buyer.
Meanwhile, WV12, a postcode area in the Wolverhampton district, including Walsall is red hot with 70 per cent of available stock under offer.
London is a good example of a city that is often seen as one market, when in fact the experience of buyers and sellers will vary from postcode to postcode.
In terms of London as a whole, 35 per cent of homes currently on the market are either sold or under offer. That is a significant change from September last year when 48 per cent of homes had found a buyer.
However, within the capital, there are some postcodes where only 10 per cent of homes on the market are either sold or under offer.
There are also postcodes where almost 60 per cent of homes have found a buyer.
The coldest property markets in London (by postcode) are currently EC2, which includes Shoreditch, Barbican and Liverpool Street, as well as WC2 and W1, which includes a large portion of Central London and includes iconic landmarks such as Oxford Street, Bond Street and Regent Street.
Meanwhile, postcodes such as E17 (Walthomstow), SW14 (Mortlake, Barnes, East Sheen, North Sheen) and E11 ( Leytonstone, Wanstead, Aldersbrook, Snaresbrook, Cann Hall) all remain relatively competitive with close to six in ten homes currently under offer.
Micro markets: The proportion of homes on the market that are either sold or under offer in London will greatly depend on each postcode
Ultimately, while the news predominantly paints a negative picture of the property market, this data suggests the reality could be very different depending on where someone lives.
While buyers in colder markets can potentially haggle and bag themselves a discount, those in the hotter markets may need to take a very different approach.
Buyers looking in locations where sellers are struggling to sell, can feel more confident in offering significantly under the asking price without offending the seller.
The seller and their estate agent are likely to be short of interest and this creates the perfect opportunity to buy at a discount.
It’s worth understanding what buyer demand and house prices are doing in a local area, rather than focusing on the county or country as a whole.
There may still be strong buyer demand or a lack of good quality homes for sale in a specific area, for example.
Haggle: The seller and their estate agent are likely to be short of interest and this creates the perfect opportunity to buy at a discount.
Top tips for sellers and buyers
That said, according to Gavin Brazg, founder of PropCast they are seeing big drops in demand across most of the UK, pushing locations further towards a buyer’s market.
‘This re-balance means the balance of power is now shifting towards buyers,’ says Brazg, ‘which is why we are seeing house prices stabilising, even falling, with successful negotiations on the rise.
‘This means it’s more important than ever before for sellers to remain realistic about what their home is worth, and choose a good local estate agent who will implement an optimal pricing and marketing strategy. Otherwise, they will find their home will struggle to sell.
The balance of power is now shifting towards buyers
He adds: ‘Buyers may be able to negotiate on price a bit more – something that hasn’t really been possible over the last two and half years.
‘This can help ease the burden of increased mortgage repayments, as can any stamp duty saving.
‘However, demand is still out there, so buyers need to make sure they are ready to move when they’re making their offer.
‘This means having the funds organised, solicitors appointed and all the paperwork in place.
‘Also talk to your buying agent if you have one, or the estate agent if you don’t, to find out how low an offer is acceptable.
‘If you go too low, you run the risk of losing out on your dream home. Being a cash buyer, and being flexible on completion date can often encourage a seller to accept a lower offer too.’
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