Annual house price growth back into positive territory: Rightmove

Agreed sales in the first six weeks of 2024 are 16% higher than over the same period last year.

Related topics:  Finance News,  Mortgages,  House prices
Rozi Jones | Editor, Barcadia Media Limited
19th February 2024
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"There continue to be reasons for cautious optimism as we settle into 2024, with encouraging activity levels and a more stable housing market."
- Tim Bannister, director of property at Rightmove

Average new seller asking prices have risen by 0.9% this month to £362,839, the latest Rightmove data shows. As a result, the annual price change has moved tentatively back into positive territory after six months of annual price falls, with prices up by 0.1% on a year ago.

Agreed sales in the first six weeks of 2024 are 16% higher than over the same period last year, and 3% higher than in the more normal market of 2019, indicating that many early-bird buyers feel that 2024 offers the right conditions to move.

Sales agreed numbers are being supported by more buyer and seller activity. During the first six weeks of 2024, the number of properties coming on to the market was 7% higher than the same period last year, while the number of buyers enquiring to estate agents was 7% higher.

However, Rightmove says the market remains very price-sensitive, and appears to be operating at two speeds, with properties that are priced accurately being snapped up by budget-conscious buyers, whilst over-priced properties are left on the shelf.

Evidence of this is that despite higher activity levels than last year, it’s now taking an average seller more than two weeks (16 days) longer to successfully find a buyer than at the same time last year. The time to find a buyer is at its slowest since 2015, excluding the initial lockdown months of April and May 2020. Buyers now have more time to consider which property is right for them, making it even more important for sellers to price temptingly and stand out from the crowd. Rightmove analysis also shows that sellers who price right initially are far more likely to find a buyer and sell more quickly.

As the 2024 Budget approaches, Rightmove’s data indicates that the first-time-buyer sector is most in need of government support, with buyer activity levels and sales in this sector the least improved compared to last year.

Tim Bannister, director of property at Rightmove, commented: “We said that February would be an important indicator for the year ahead, and the question was whether the Rightmove Boxing Day bounce in buyer activity would keep its spring into March or lose momentum. It's proved to be the former, with the number of sales agreed continuing to considerably outstrip last year. Early-bird Boxing Day buyers got a head start in cherry picking from a record level of new property choice and have now been joined by many other buyers also believing that 2024 offers the right market conditions to move. Mortgage rates have fallen considerably from their peak and are now remaining broadly stable after the uncertainty of late 2022 and 2023. Momentum to move in 2024 is continuing to build, but prospective sellers mustn’t get carried away. Buyers now have more choice of property for sale and many are still very price-sensitive, with mortgage rates remaining elevated. Sellers who are serious about moving this year would be well-advised to ride this wave of increased buyer confidence with an attractive asking price before any pre-election jitters or unexpected events dampen the momentum.

“There continue to be reasons for cautious optimism as we settle into 2024, with encouraging activity levels and a more stable housing market. While some would-be buyers will continue to be affected by elevated mortgage rates and major affordability constraints, many other prospective buyers who can afford to do so, have acted fast and demonstrated their belief that 2024 is their year to get moving. It is still early days for 2024, with a Budget, General Election and no doubt more global events still to play out. With the Budget up next, the government will be considering a range of options to support movers and we expect to hear more policy rumours as the date approaches. Rightmove’s whole-of-market data shows that it’s the first-time-buyer segment who could use the most support this spring, and well-thought-out initiatives to help to get more would-be first-time buyers onto the ladder would be welcome.”


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