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A Spring Feel in the Housing Market

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Hello. I’m already enjoying our longer days since the clocks changed, even though it seems to be non-stop rain. Thankfully there’s more of a spring feel in the housing market.

Once again, we’ve got access to data from Propertymark, the professional body for property agents. This is how agents saw the housing market performing in the lead-up to spring in real-time.

Sales market overview

Let’s kick off as usual with some figures.

There’s been an 18 per cent increase in the number of properties coming to the housing market.

This works out as about 10 more homes to sell in each agency branch. It’s a welcome rise but the figures aren’t quite up to date enough to include Easter, which is ‘the big one’ when it comes to a surge in the volume of homes being marketed for the first time by sellers.

Propertymark member agents report buyer numbers registered with agents have remained steady after a remarkable 120 per cent rise a few weeks ago. Appraisals by agents have also remained steady. Again following a big increase a month earlier. So far both the totals of registered buyers and appraisals roughly mirror what we saw in early 2023.

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Housing market overview

But there’s some extra information which I can throw into the mix.

It’s not from Propertymark but instead comes from the Bank of England, no less. This concerns the number of mortgage approvals. These approvals come at the start of buyers’ journeys, so give advance indication of whether the housing market could be about to get busy or stagnate.

And it looks good.

The figures show mortgage approvals across the UK jumped 7.7 per cent in February to 60,383. This is a huge 40% higher than a year ago and is the fifth month in a row that there’s been an increase.

This should give heart to sellers. It means an increasing volume of buyers have negotiated a mortgage loan ‘in principle’ so they can search for a home knowing they have the funds to carry a purchase through to completion.

This is already filtering through with more sales – Propertymark also reports a 19 per cent monthly rise in completed purchases.

And so, to prices, where an average 1.6 per cent annual increase has been reported from agents. This sounds relatively small and compared to some large rises in the distant past, it is of course modest. But that’s the best way to ensure a stable housing market right now. We have enough volatility with high-interest rates and ongoing inflation as it is!

Local Housing Market Intel

Rental market data

I’m running out of new things to say about the picture in the lettings market!

The figures do tilt a little each month, but the story remains one of demand (from would-be tenants and existing renters wanting to switch accommodation) far exceeding supply.

This month’s twist in the saga is that there’s been a small drop in the number of prospective tenants registered with Propertymark agents. Down from an average of 97 at the start of the year to 89 now.

But – and there’s always seems a ‘but’ in the rentals sector – the supply of homes available has dropped too. The net result is that on average there are some 10 applicants vying for every one property available to rent.

As ever, this means there could be rent rises in the coming months. Although affordability ceilings have been hit in many areas, so any increase should be smaller than a year ago.

This situation continues month-on-month and simply emphasises the point we’ve been making for some time: there’s a need for more affordable housing to be built to satisfy demand.

The housing market in the next few months

The Budget a few weeks ago proved to have less of a direct influence on the housing market than we expected. But with a possible further ‘fiscal event’ this year, plus speculation about a General Election ramping up, the near future looks as volatile as ever. This demonstrates that the first half of 2024 may prove to be a better time to sell and buy than in the post-summer period. If that’s your plan, you’ll be pleased to know that we’re back with more market insights and data next month.

Stay updated

As ever, a lot is going on (and I mean a lot!). But we’ll be back in a month to bring the latest property market data from the front line of the housing market. If you haven’t done so already subscribe to the newsletter to receive updates and advice direct to your inbox. Until then…


Last Updated: April 3rd, 2024

Phil Spencer

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