The number of sales agreed per branch began to rise again, as did the number of people registering to buy a property - which increased dramatically from 238 to 294 (up 24%). This demonstrates that the fall in demand in August had more to do with summer holidays than a blip in the housing market.
The number of first time buyers remains at a reasonable level, while the level of housing stock available remains low. This is likely to reflect the fact that, while the recovery and stamp duty holiday has provided effective stimulus to first time buyers, the corresponding increase in homes for sale has yet to work its way through.
NUMBER OF HOUSE HUNTERS
Number of house hunters registered per branch increased from 238 in August to 294 in September many of whom will be selling their own homes.
The dramatic increase in house hunters demonstrates the housing market's cyclical nature. The market has bounced back strongly from the dip in August - a time when traditionally less people look to buy property. The figure of 294 house hunters appears to show evidence of the beginnings of market recovery over the last 12 months, when compared to the number of 211 house hunters for the same month in 2008.
Number of house hunters
SALES PER BRANCH
Number of sales agreed per branch increased from an average of eight (7.6) in August to nine (8.5) in September
Sales per branch
Sales had held reasonably firm over the summer months despite the traditional lull in
activity, so it is pleasing that a boost can still be noted in September. This figure further demonstrates that the UK housing market has been able to rebound from the summer dip without the slow process of recovery being knocked off course. These positive indicators will now be monitored carefully to see if they can continue to grow until the next seasonal market dip just prior to Christmas time.
Average number of properties available for sale per branch fell from 64 in August to 62 in September
The level of housing stock available has now held relatively firm since June, albeit at a lower level than normal. This could reflect the fact that increased numbers of buyers are still working their way through the system and have not yet become sellers in their own right.
FIRST TIME BUYERS (FTBs)
Percentage of first time buyers (FTBs) fell from 36% in August to 26% in September
The percentage of first time buyers dropped from August to September but still represents an increase on July figures and is well within the parameters of a healthy market. The extent to which first time buyers have returned to the housing market over the past 12 months can be seen by comparing the year previous. In September 2008 just 10 per cent of new sales were made to first time buyers.
Some caution must be warned however as the stamp duty holiday, which mainly affects first time buyers, ends in January. The Government should consider extending this tax incentive in the same way as the car scrappage allowance scheme.
REGIONAL SUMMARIES FROM BRANCH CHAIRMEN AND OFFICIALS
Des Rowson, Essex
The market in Essex seems to have slowed considerably at this moment in time, possibly caused by the children going back to school and all the associated costs that go with it. There have been fewer properties coming on to the market for sale but a few mortgages seem to be trickling through.
One issue that we have started to see is that people are panicking about the stamp duty reversal at the end of the year where the exemption reverts back to £125,000. The government clearly needs to review the whole stamp duty situation or at least extend the current £175,000 threshold.
Rentals have remained buoyant with rents continuing to hold up. New built properties are still a problem in some areas with very few being completed which in turn is putting prices up of good quality re-sales.
International properties are experiencing a lack of enquiries this month mainly because of the Euro value, at the time of going to press this was 1.08 euros to £1 sterling. This is good if a vendor is selling in the Euro-zone and bringing the money back to the UK but not if purchasing.
Richard Copus, Devon
September saw a noticeable increase in market movement, with problem houses starting to sell and the exodus from London commencing anew.
Indicators down here show confidence and buyers increasing- prices are stable yet good stock is in short supply.
Trevor Kent, Bucks, Berks and Oxon
Ah September, a month of Autumn mists and the mellow fruitfulness of increased sales and many a letting. A number of so called 'gurus' of the property market scorned the Branch's optimism last month and many a whisper of "it won't last for them" was bandied about.
However, the facts speak for themselves; footfall in offices in our prime Home Counties region has increased a pace during the month. Sales and letting levels have grown exponentially and, whilst member agents in our lovely region will be the first to admit we're not out of the woods yet, we are certainly in a substantial clearing and the forest is well behind us now.
As ever, the ubiquitous three bedroom semi is the readiest seller, and not a few first-timers are surprisingly managing to join the ladder at what used to be the 'third rung up'. Prices are at their best values for many a year and purchasers now seem willing to put their wallets to work at last.
For those for whom rental is a preferred option, life has become a little trickier as rent levels harden and stock diminishes. More landlords are reluctant to accept shorter terms than they were a few months ago, and even have the luxury, on occasion, of being able to make a choice from a number of prospective tenants.
Michael Hack, Solent
We have seen a reasonable number of people looking for a property that are in good buying positions. However the shortage of stock is resulting in a lack of choice for buyers. HIPs are certainly not helping at all.
Wendy Evans-Scott, Surrey
Surrey members reported that the top end of the market was sluggish through July and August, although the market in good to average family homes was fairly buoyant. Everyone was anticipating a strong pick-up in September but as yet instructions are still thin on the ground.
A lack of stock and new applicants means buyers have to view houses that do not necessarily fit tick all the boxes. Asking prices are reflecting the shortage of available houses on the market and as a result, some agents are starting to undercut their fees. Mortgage valuation problems seem to be less common, which is a relief.
The overseas market is still very subdued. Lots of Brits want to sell their homes, particularly in Spain, and many are quite desperate. The US (Florida) market showing real signs of picking up in quality areas.
Generally - the outlook is very mixed and uncertain.
Mark Bentley, Birmingham
The fragility of the property market recovery has been evident with some of patches of our area having a busy August and a slow September and other patches reporting a slow August but a busy September.
As a general rule we are seeing a slowly improving level of activity in the low to mid price ranges. Yet the level of enquires and activity in the mid to higher price ranges is still slow and very patchy. Hence there is a limited number of good new instructions coming onto the market and a limited number of buyers who are in a position to purchase. Most buyers who are able to move up market are looking for a good buy and many vendors are reluctant to accept the level of reduction in their sale price required to guarantee a sale.
We hope that we will see a reasonable level of activity in October but November and December could be quiet months.
Ian Harris- Norfolk
The market in Norfolk is looking a bit like Norfolk from the air -a patchwork of various shades of green, with the shoots of recovery at different stages development wherever you look!
Agents across Norfolk have reported peaks and troughs of viewings, sales and instructions, but with little consistency from location to location- although most seem to report an overall improvement by the end of the month
The North/West costal fringes continue to attract plenty of interest from buyers out of the area. Whilst in the University City of Norwich there was a spike of enquiries in sales and especially lettings around the start of the academic year.
The rental market is also enjoying a recovery with voids reducing and rent levels showing signs of hardening. Buyers and sellers need to act now to avoid missing the stamp duty holiday (to £175K). There are some attractive mortgage deals which will also make Christmas in a new home even more enjoyable.