So is now a good time to buy, sell, invest, build or are you better off renting?

So is now a good time to buy, sell, invest, build or are you better off renting?

Information on property prices from companies such as Acadametrics, Nationwide and Land Registry is good for looking ‘back’ at what’s happened to property prices, but it doesn’t reflect current or future market conditions.

To know whether now is a good time to carry out your property project, you need to work out what’s happening within your local market. To do this, you need a detailed understanding of what’s happening to the supply and demand of property in your area.

One company which monitors this at a regional level is Hometrack. According to their latest May data:-

  • The average time to sell a property has speeded up dramatically in 2013, giving the lowest time on the market since 2010. We started the year taking over 10 weeks to sell and now this has dropped to 9 weeks. The less time properties take to sell the better. Although bear in mind the pre-crash average was 6-8 weeks, so if the housing market is to continue to show signs of improvement, we can expect to see this reduce.
  • How much people offer versus marketing prices can give an indication of what’s happening market wise. We started the year off with offers of 93% versus asking prices and currently are nearly back to normal market with offers of approximately 94%. As with average time to sell, this is the best figure since 2010.
  • Another useful measure is how many viewers it takes to secure an offer. At the start of the year this was 10.3 viewings and is the one indicator which hasn’t changed.

As with property prices though, these ratios vary on a regional basis. London continues to outperform the market:-

  • Greater London’s offer to asking price ratio is 95.6% with homes continuing to sell fastest at 4.3 weeks
  • The South East has the next highest offer to asking price ratio of 95.5%, selling a home within 7 weeks
  • East Anglia follows closely with offer to asking price ratios of 93.7% and taking 8.3 weeks to sell

In contrast though:-

  • The North East has the worst offer to asking price ratio at 92% and is taking 11.3 weeks to sell a home
  • The East Midlands remains the region taking the longest to sell a home at over 13 weeks, but has a reasonable offer to asking price ratio of 93%

Supply and Demand from Hometrack’s Perspective
So, from Hometrack’s analysis, it appears London and the South East property markets are staging a recovery at the moment. The key question is whether this will be sustained through the summer and autumn. The last time we saw similar indicators was in 2010, but even in this year the market slipped back towards the end of the year.

Ideally find out what’s happening to your local market by speaking to agents about asking price ratios, time to sell and how many viewings it takes to sell a property. These are great indicators of what’s happening locally. In addition any agent you talk to who has these key indicators to hand for their local area is likely to give you a much more honest view of what’s happening in the market locally.

Read the Full Consumer Property Market Reports for May here, including:-

  • Regional and national averages
  • City Centre property price performance varies by 30%
  • Supply and demand
  • Future Market: Green shoots but will they flower in 2013?

What to do next? For more help, from Kate and her team, join Property Checklists for free.

For Industry Professionals If you are you a property professional or journalist who needs up to date, accurate, facts and figures, stats about residential property, subscribe to our Property Information Portal.


About Kate Faulkner OBE

One of the UK’s leading property experts, commentators and analysts. An author of a number of property books, including four property guides for the consumer organisation Which?. Media appearances include BBC1 Breakfast, ITV/ITN, The One Show, BBC2 Your Money, Radio 4 You and Yours, Radio 5 Live, Channel 4, plus numerous local BBC radio stations.
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