Housing demand cools

Nearly two thirds (63%) of NAEA member agents said they experienced cooling market conditions in March, as first-time buyers in particular stayed away.

Less than a quarter (22%) of house sales were to first-time buyers in March, down from nearly a third (30%) in February.

Mark Hayward, the NAEA’s managing director, said: “We would always expect to see an event as monumental as a general election having an impact on the property market.

“But what makes this election so interesting is that no one knows what the result will be.

“And with housing policies featuring so prominently in all three main parties’ manifestos, buyers in particular are holding off to see what will happen.

“The outcome of the election will impact first, second, third and last-time buyers.”

Just under half (48%) of NAEA member agents favoured the Conservatives’ pledge to build 200,000 new starter homes for the first-time buyer market, compared to 6% who backed Labour’s proposal to boost housebuilding rates to 200,000 a year by 2020.

However a third (31%) felt more defeatist – saying that none of the proposed policies from political parties will straighten out the market.

Hayward seemed to agree, adding: "It’s all very well proposing to build 200,000 houses, but planning law, lack of infrastructure and available labour can make this process so lengthy that it may be 10 or 20 years until we see this, by which time demand will be greater.”

Supply rose by 12% in March per NAEA branch as houses stayed on the market longer due to a nervousness from buyers.

Demand fell, as there were 343 registered house hunters per branch in March compared to 406 in September 2014.