Zoopla: Balance of buyers and sellers starts to shift

  • The number of listings in the average estate agency is up 3.5% in the past month and up 5% from the five-year average.
  • Average house prices are up 8.1% on the year.
  • Buyer demand is still stronger than usual for the time of year.

Sarah Coles, senior personal finance analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown:

“It has been a sellers’ market for so long that people expect their home to be snapped up by a ravenous pack of property-starved buyers, the second their property particulars are published. But there are signs of a subtle shift that could eventually make it much more difficult to shift your home.

The Zoopla figures show that sellers are flocking to the market, with some keen to lock in property price rises while they still can. Meanwhile, although demand remains higher than usual for the time of year, it has fallen since the start of 2022. So the balance of supply and demand is changing.

The exception is the market for family homes, because a dearth of suitable properties means buyers have been hanging around for months, waiting to pounce on any new family home that hits the market. Demand for this kind of property is actually twice as high as usual.

At the moment, the shifting balance of supply and demand is making life slightly easier for buyers, and has boosted the number of sales agreed, but it hasn’t yet started to hurt sellers. Buyers are still outnumbering sellers, and the stock of homes is still 42% below the five-year average.

However, it’s worth keeping an eye on whether this balance continues to shift. There’s every chance it will, as soaring bills and prices – alongside rising mortgage costs – convince more people that now is not the time to over-stretch their finances. We’re expecting buyer demand to slow as we go through 2022.

The question is how far the balance will shift. If it moves significantly, we could end up in a buyers’ market for the first time in a while, putting the brakes on house price rises, and making life more difficult for people who struggle to shift their home.”

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