Asking prices for homes hit record high

20/05/2024
(Last Updated: 31/05/2024)
217
8 min read

Average House Price London

£499,663
(March 2024)

Sales Volume London


2,146
(Jan 2023)

Average House Price England & Wales

£294,696
(March 2024)

Sales Volume England & Wales

20,406
(Jan 2023)
Key Takeaways for May 2024
  • January 2024 saw the worst-ever sales volume of 20,406, down 57% on January 2023.
  • House prices remained close to record highs at £294,696; only 1% down on March 2023.
  • Inflation falls to 2.3%, but the Base Rate is set to remain at 5.25% well into the summer.
  • General Election called for the 4th July; housing pledges will be top of the list
  • Property Mark reports, "Prospective buyer registrations and viewing numbers increase".
  • The number of homes for sale is at the highest level in eight years.
  • Freehold and Leasehold Reform Bill is now law
  • An average-priced new build is £114,000 more expensive than the average-priced home in England and Wales.
  • Read our local housing market reports for - Hertfordshire, Devon, Surrey, London, Bristol and South Yorkshire.


May 2024 Housing Market Report

According to Rightmove, May saw asking prices for homes hit record-highs. The average asking price of properties coming to the market was £375,131 in the four weeks to mid-May, up £2,807 on the previous month. Rightmove links the cause, as I've been reporting throughout my 2024 Housing Market Reports: pent-up buyer demand - a mini-bubble. The number of sales agreed during the first four months of the year was 17 per cent higher than for the same period last year.

Whilst the sales volume for January was a record low, this year is showing positive signs in more recent data from the Bank of England shows mortgage approvals for house buying are up YOY by 17% in a market where mortgage rates are still hovering around the 5% level.

Propertymark, the leading membership body for the property sector, stated in their March Report that the average number of new prospective buyers registered per branch and viewing numbers increased marginally in March 2024. However, the viewing numbers are broadly in line with the same period in March 2023. With such a long buying cycle from listing to completion, Propertymark's reporting indicates that the latter months of 2024 will remain strong as long as adequate housing stock is available for prospective buyers.

The good news is that Zoopla reported the number of homes for sale is at the highest level in eight years. There are 20% more homes on the market in May than last year. On average, an estate agent branch has 31 flats and houses for sale, the most since 2016. That compares with 26 last year and 16 in 2022. The demand from buyers has historically been stronger than the supply from sellers, which is why I expect the rest of 2024 to see sales volume improve on last year.

It is evident that the stability of the base rate has given buyers more confidence to return to the housing market even though mortgage rates are higher than the last 14 years of low interest rates.

Houses in high demand representative for the housing market for 2024 so far

The Leasehold and Freehold Reform Act has become law

The Leasehold and Freehold Reform Act 2024 was passed on the 24th May 2024, but is not yet in effect and the date for this is not yet clear. We will update our content as and when the finalised legislation is published.

Some of the expected changes include:

  • 990 year standard lease extension for houses and flats
  • Standardised format for service charge bills, for greater transparency
  • Leaseholders will no longer have to pay their freeholder’s costs when making a claim
  • Freeholders who manage their building directly must belong to a redress scheme, so leaseholders can challenge them if needed (already applies to managing agents)
  • Ban on sale of leasehold houses, except in specific circumstances and schemes
  • Fair and transparent buildings insurance handling fees
  • Removal of two year requirement before statutory extension

While the existing act abolishes ground rent on lease extension and new leases, the new act does not cap ground rent on pre-existing leases.


What our survey revealed about homebuyers
Our survey, conducted by YouGov, reveals the top challenges faced homeowners when buying their most recent property, plus the true costs of defects when skipping a home buyers survey.


What are homebuyers looking for?

When will the base rate fall in 2024?

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported UK inflation fell to 2.3 per cent in April, its lowest level for almost three years. The drop was driven by easing energy and food costs. On the back of this, the Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey said he was "optimistic that things are moving in the right direction" as rates were held at 5.25% yesterday, edging closer to a potential summer interest rate cut. Financial markets currently predict a 56% probability of a 0.25% cut to the base rate on June 20, earlier than the September projection.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has said the Bank should not cut interest rates too quickly and that he “would much rather that they waited until they’re absolutely sure inflation is on a downward trajectory than rush into a decision that they had to reverse at a later stage”

With a firm date for the General Election, political eyes will be on a base rate cut if it happens before the general election. Expect the political spin doctors to use this to win votes. It raises the question around the decision-making framework between the Bank of England (BoE) and government as the former is accruing too much political interest, which could lead to results that are politically corrosive and undermine the Bank of England's independence.



Source: Office for National Statistics (ONS)


Are New Builds fueling the Average Sale Price in England and Wales

Source: House Price Index (HPI)


For years, new builds have cost more than the average house price in England and Wales and have had noticeable jumps in the summer of 2016 and April 2018. The jump in 2023 means an average-priced new build is now £114,000 more expensive to buy, at £406,743. This price disparity contributes to the asking prices set by estate agents as they are used for local comparable prices.

Whilst average sale prices for new builds is high, the overall volume is far less at only 145 sales in January out of a total of 20,406 for England and Wales.



Lowest sales volume for December


London Housing market declines as property sales fall by 45%. A Cartoon of a man trying to hold up the property market with ropes

London has the lowest sales volume ever in January since records began, achieving just 2,146 sales, 59% down on the previous year's 5,279. Even after the financial crash of 2008, sales in January only fell to 8,541. For more on London, read: London Housing Market Report.

Average house prices in London fell year on year by 3%, to £499,663, for March 2024; an eleventh consecutive month of year on year decline in the capital,.


Source: House Price Index (HPI)


England & Wales

England and Wales echo London with a 57% fall year on year, making January the worst on record at 20,406 property sales. January was the first month after we came out of recession and all indications are that February onward will see a return to sales volume growth.

Are UK house prices falling?

Average house prices in England & Wales rose year on year by 1% to £294,696 for March 2024.



Source: House Price Index (HPI)


Mortgage reports


Home buyers

Mortgage approvals for home buyers grew in March to 61,325, up by 17% on last year. This shows more confidence in buyers with more affordable mortgage products. We may see this fall in future months if more mortgage lenders choose to increase their interest rates before the anticipated base rate fall.

Remortgages

The remortgage growth was less confident than for home buyers, with a 6% YOY increase to 34,170. The remortgage market may be low based on more homeowners choosing a longer-term fixed rate deal of 5 years. It could also be linked to homeowners not being able to remortgage due to the high mortgage rates compared to when they originally borrowed.

I predict remortgages will increase during autumn as more affordable mortgage products come to the market after the base rate falls.



Source: Bank of England


Over one million people may have taken out mortgages that will continue past retirement age

The former Liberal Democrat pensions minister, Sir Steve Webb, stated that more than one million people may have taken out mortgages that will continue past the state pension age in the past three years.

The data from the Bank of England revealed that the percentage of new mortgages that will run past the state pension age is growing rapidly each year, rising from 31% in the 4th Quarter of 2021 to 42% in the 4th Quarter of 2023. The under-40s age group was the fastest-growing. Buyers are opting for longer-term mortgages to make the monthly repayments more affordable. The challenge with this is that it delays the problem rather than fixes it, as you may find that your income for your pension isn't enough to see you through.



Wage growth is at an all-time high

Source: HPI & ONS


The Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that regular wage growth, excluding the effects of bonuses, was 6% higher over the three months to March compared to last year. The wage growth will be taken into consideration by the Bank of England as it could increase inflation and cause a delay to the base rate cut.

ONS went on to report that unemployment rose by 166,000, pushing the jobless rate from 3.8% to 4.3%. The number of people inactive because of long-term health problems reached a record high of over 2.8 million.

Andrew Boast FMAAT MIC
CEO and Author | SAM Conveyancing


How is the current UK housing market?

The General Election is coming at a time when the housing market is getting back on track. I don't think it will derail the market, but it will be full of overpromising new properties and buying initiatives. The Bank of England needs to turn away from the political eyes waiting to spin the news of a base rate fall in their favour.

The latest figures show that homeowners are winning back confidence after interest rate increases last year prompted many to delay putting their house on the market. With an increasing supply of properties for sale and strong demand from buyers, the housing market will be very buoyant when the Bank of England announces its base rate cut this summer.

The housing market needs this; however, what it doesn't need is a negative change that could happen after the General Election in July. Labour is already pledging to build 1.5 million new homes. I'm unsure over what period; however, we've not built more than 200,000 new homes yearly since 2007, so I take this pledge with a pinch of salt.


Sources: Latest data from - Gov.UK, Bank of England, UK House Price Index, ONS and Property Mark (NAEA).

Andrew Boast of Sam Conveyancing
Written by:
Andrew started his career in 2000 working within conveyancing solicitor firms and grew hands-on knowledge of a wide variety of conveyancing challenges and solutions. After helping in excess of 50,000 clients in his career, he uses all this experience within his article writing for SAM, mainstream media and his self published book How to Buy a House Without Killing Anyone.
Caragh Bailey, Digital Marketing Manager
Reviewed by:

Caragh is an excellent writer in her own right as well as an accomplished copy editor for both fiction and non-fiction books, news articles and editorials. She has written extensively for SAM for a variety of conveyancing, survey and mortgage related articles.

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