- Average new seller asking prices rise by 1.3% (+£4,571) month-on-month to £359,748, the biggest December to January increase in prices since 2020, though average prices are still 0.7% lower than at this time last year
- There has been some tentatively promising activity in the first week of the year, markedly stronger than a year ago, as more prospective buyers and sellers seem to have the confidence to get their 2024 moving plans started early:
- The number of new properties coming onto the market for sale is 15% higher than in the same period last year
- Buyer demand in the first week of 2024 is also 5% higher than in the same period last year. However, competitive pricing from sellers is still vital, with the number of new properties coming to market outpacing the rise in demand
- The number of sales agreed is 20% higher than during the first week of last year, indicating a strong return of buyer confidence when compared with the unsettled post-mini-Budget period a year ago
- Since Christmas, Rightmove has seen nine of its ten busiest days on record for people getting a Mortgage in Principle to see what they can afford to borrow, another early sign of movers getting their 2024 plans in place
- The average 5-year mortgage rate is now 4.86%, compared to 6.11% at the July 2023 peak. While there may be more surprises to come, early indicators suggest a more stable year for the mortgage market after its volatility from September 2022 onwards
The average price of property coming onto the market for sale rises by 1.3% (+4,571) this month to £359,748. Prices typically rise from a quiet December into a busier January, but this price rise is the largest for January since 2020, and more than double the 20-year average of +0.6%. Average new seller asking prices are still 0.7% lower than last year, highlighting that many new sellers are being realistic about their expectations as the market continues to recover from the impact of volatile mortgage rates. However, the jump in the number of properties coming to market and the strength of this month’s price rise also show that new sellers are more confident about the outlook for the year ahead. Rightmove’s early snapshot of buyer and seller activity since the start of the year is tentatively promising for those looking to get their 2024 moving after a hesitant 2023.
“After a stop-start market in 2023, the initial signs suggest a smoother year for movers in 2024. More new sellers are now entering the market, and with more confident pricing. While the increased level of buyer activity that we’re also seeing may justify some of this increased pricing confidence from sellers, it’s important that sellers who are keen to find a buyer don’t get carried away with New Year enthusiasm when setting their price expectations. Elevated mortgage rates and the wider cost-of-living squeeze are still limiting buyers’ spending power. Accurate and realistic pricing for their local area is the recipe for success for sellers looking to get moving in 2024, and it’s been proven that over-optimistic pricing makes a move much less likely.”
Tim Bannister Rightmove’s Director of Property Science
Whilst it’s an early snapshot of 2024, both buyer and seller activity have jumped compared to the same period a year ago, indicating a return of confidence when compared with the unsettled post-mini-Budget period. The number of potential buyers contacting estate agents about homes for sale in the first week of 2024 was 5% higher than in the same period last year, with the growth in activity strongest in London and the North East.
The number of properties coming to market for sale is also 15% higher than at the start of last year, following a record number of sellers launching on Rightmove on Boxing Day. The North East and South West have seen the greatest addition of new choice for the increased number of new buyers. There remains no glut of homes for sale, with the total number of available properties just 1% above the more normal market levels of 2019. However, it is vital that those who are keen to sell price competitively, even with this new buyer activity, as the number of properties coming to market is outpacing the rise in the number of buyers enquiring.
The most positive early indicator for 2024 is that the number of sales being agreed is 20% higher at the start of the year than in the same period last year. This also shows that many sellers are pricing attractively enough to tempt buyers who were hesitant to commit a year ago when the outlook for mortgage rates and buyer affordability was much more uncertain.
Since the 27th of December, Rightmove has seen nine of its ten busiest days for prospective movers beginning the process of getting a Mortgage in Principle, to see how much they are likely to be able to borrow from a lender, and therefore the type of home that they may be able to afford. January is on course to be the busiest month for people getting a Mortgage in Principle on Rightmove since that service was launched in 2022. Whilst it is still early days, this is another positive sign of future movers getting their 2024 budgets and plans in place.
The average 5-year fixed mortgage rate is now 4.86%, compared to the peak of 6.11% in July last year. As some best-buy rates edge closer to 4%, and a first Base Rate cut since 2020 is expected later this year, there is overall a more stable backdrop for the mortgage market than at this time last year.
“Rightmove’s whole-of-market data puts us in a position to see the very earliest signs of activity in the market, and the number of new listings, buyer enquiries to agents, and sales being agreed are encouraging early indicators. Combined with our more recent Mortgage in Principle data, the numbers suggest that many are taking action to make their move in 2024, perhaps including some who paused last year due to the more unsteady mortgage market. A General Election is expected to be held during the second half of 2024, and traditionally we see a temporary slow-down in activity in the weeks before an election, as movers wait for the outcome and assess any impact that it may have on their housing plans. It will be important to keep a careful eye on this and on the impact of other economic news this year, but for now the data at the start of 2024 points to building momentum, and reasons for growing market optimism.”
Tim Bannister Rightmove’s Director of Property Science