Househunting activity surges but supply remains constrained, says real estate portal

Buyer demand for new homes is 49% higher at the beginning of the year compared to previous years, according to Zoopla.

The real estate portal said buyer activity “surged” over the new year with demand signficantly up for the four weeks to 16 January compared to the average for the previous three years.


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It also said prices are 1% higher for the three months to December compared to the average for the same period over the three previous years, while prices in the year to December increased 7.4%, bringing the average selling price to £242,000.

Zoopla said several factors are driving increasing demand for family homes.

It said: ”The pandemic ‘search for space’, the stamp duty holiday and also changing working patterns for office-based workers all contributed to a strong focus on family homes, especially in the wider commuter zones and in rural areas. 

“As we forecast in early December, buyer demand bounced back strongly at the start of this year, up 50% compared to usual levels for this time of year. Some of the strongest demand has been seen in cities and wider suburbs, including Thurrock in Essex, the suburbs of Birmingham and Glasgow and East London (Barking & Dagenham) leading the way.”

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Zoopla also said a lack of supply of properties for sale has been “a major theme”  in the housing market since the pandemic started and said available stock in December was 44% lower than the five-year average for the same time of year. However this is an improvement on a 47% drop recorded last year.

It said: “This is a relatively small change, but new supply coming to the market is tracking usual levels at this time of year, and valuation leads have jumped in the first few weeks of the year, signalling that supply levels could start to build this year, especially as the busy New Year period passes.”

The Zoopla findings follows a report by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors last week warning homes are not coming to the market quickly enough to satisfy demand.

Meanwhlile, another property portal, Rightmove, published its rental trends tracker showing that rents in the fourth quarter of of 2021 were 9.9% higher than in October to December 2020, reaching £1,068 per calendar month. It said this was the fastest rent rise on record.

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