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Buyers dip toes into purchase pool

Vendor interest is gathering momentum and translating into sales, according to a number of agencies across the country.

The news comes as the Land Registry reveals that sales volumes have plummeted 59%, but it underlines the fact that sales are being achieved by some agents.

David Livesey (pictured), Connells Group chief executive, claims that his 450 UK offices each completed around two sales in the third week of January, which he says is far higher than he anticipated.

He adds: "Instructions are the name of the game, so that's where our focus is."

In Northampton, Adam Wellesley, co-founder of Horts, claims to have completed 30 sales since January 5, with an average sale price of £130,000.

He says: "We are still not seeing real people coming in - those wanting to trade up from a three bed to a four-bed house - but investors are still flooding in."

Karl Tatler, managing director of Wirral-based Karl Tatler Estate Agents, agrees, revealing that 62% of his firm's sales in January have come from applicants that registered within the past six weeks.

He says: "Already this month there has been a significant increase in the number of people registering on our mailing list. Noticeably in the first 10 days of January 67% of those registered were either in rented accommodation or had nothing to sell, a clear sign that those in rented are intending not to renew their tenancy and consider buying instead.

"Our register of applicants has increased by 50% over the past six weeks, with 51% of the entire register in a position to buy now. Some are still observing the market, but there is definitely a feeling that an increasing number of people believe we are nearing the bottom of the market and that now is a good time to buy."

He adds: "Although the market is still delicate, prices locally are still falling, albeit at a much slower rate, and there are some interesting changes that are apparent in the market that offer a possible light at the end of this gloomy tunnel, suggesting that buyers are thinking about returning to the market."

Tatler believes that more attractive mortgage products will become available in the coming weeks given that the Base Rate is expected to fall further and that LIBOR [the rate at which banks lend to one another] is decreasing too.

He says: "This could be the tonic that will convince the observers to come down off the fence and buy. If the positive signs that we have seen on the Wirral begin to be reported nationwide, then I'm sure the banks will feel less nervous about the housing market than they are now. Of course, it's still going to be a tough one, no matter what, but the signs are there that people are returning to the market."

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