More homes came up for sale in September, as there were 14% more listings in the first two weeks of the month compared to the final two weeks of August, Rightmove’s House Price Index shows.
This indicates early signs of a better-balanced market, as there’s been so much demand compared to supply that house prices have been continually pushed upwards this past year.
Average asking prices rose slightly during September, increasing by 0.3% to £338,462.
Rightmove said the market is currently seeing the rise of the ‘power buyer’ – meaning lots of buyers in a powerful position, such as those who already sold their home, have cash in the bank, or first-time buyers with a mortgage agreed.
Tim Bannister, director of property data, Rightmove, said: “While the holiday-starved took their break over summer, the high ratio of buyer demand to properties for sale means that the property market remains stock-starved despite the summer lull lessening overall activity.
“Competition among potential buyers to secure their next home is now more than double what it was this time in 2019.
“To be in pole-position in the race for the best property you need to have greater buying power than the rest of the field.
“That traditionally would mean deeper pockets to outbid other buyers, but in the most competitive market ever, today’s ‘power buyers’ also need to have already found a buyer for their own property, or to have no need to sell at all.
“Agents report that buyers who have yet to sell are being out-muscled by buyers who have already sold subject to contract. Proof that you are mortgage-ready or can splash the cash without needing a mortgage will also help you to get the pick of the housing crop.”
Despite supply rising, buyer demand per property for sale is more than double pre-pandemic levels, indicating that there’s a long way to go for the market to be in a healthy position.
Tomer Aboody, director of property lender MT Finance, said: “With an ever-increasing buyer pool looking to snap up property, the market has hit record highs with prices continuing to rise.
“Many buyers not wanting to be left behind are selling their homes and renting until they find something to buy, so they don’t miss out. Being a ‘ready and willing’ buyer, whether using cash or a mortgage, is an essential part of being ahead of the game.
“While interest rates remain at record lows, buyers are able to borrow more at an affordable level. Hopefully, increased stock will come to market in the coming months, helping stabilise price growth to an extent.
“A stamp duty adjustment is needed in order to release further properties onto the market; this would be most helpful for downsizers who currently have no incentive to sell due to having to pay high stamp duty on their ongoing purchase.”
Jeremy Leaf, north London estate agent and a former RICS chairman, is cynical about the high level of asking prices.
He said: “On the one hand, these figures are a little bit surprising bearing in mind that the pace of house-price growth has been slowing in the past few months as so many people brought forward their purchases to take maximum advantage of the stamp duty holiday.
“But bear in mind these are asking, not selling, prices so some of them may be based on over-optimistic seller aspiration following such a long run of increases.
“Looking forward, we don’t anticipate any major correction in the market but more properties are becoming available now which should bring about more balance between buyer and seller, and hopefully more realistic pricing.”