UK Housing Stock Shortage Shows no Signs of Abating

UK Housing Stock Shortage Shows no Signs of Abating

The likelihood of the sizeable housing stock shortage in the UK being resolved any time in the near future is treading a fine line between slim and none. Analysts and industry watchers now firmly believe that the major deficit between available supply and record-high demand will continue unabated for some time.

Driven by ferocious competition on the housing market, overall housing stock has plummeted by as much as 40% since the start of this year alone. According to the latest figures published by UK estate agent body Propertymark, the number of properties available for sale across the UK has declined steadily each and every month for eight consecutive months.

According to the agency, this is due largely to the way in which buyers are broadly interpreting the market as “insurmountable” and adjusting their property purchase decisions accordingly.

Today, the average estate agency operating in the UK has a total of 23 properties available to purchase, with 19 prospective buyers on average demonstrating an active interest in each property available.

Reluctance to enter the market

Speaking on behalf of the estate agent, the chief executive of Propertymark, Nathan Emerson, said that a growing number of prospective buyers are demonstrating a real reluctance to make their moves.

“Our worry is that people think the market is insurmountable,” he said in an interview with FTAdviser.
“Very few people can buy without selling, so the majority of buyers need to put a property on the market before they can buy their next property.”

Before the pandemic, Propertymark reported that the average property would be viewed around 14 times before being sold. Today, it is becoming the norm for homes to be sold after being shown to no more than three or four interested buyers.

“Properties are selling in much shorter periods of time, which means people think they don’t have time to sell their own property,” he continued.

“If we’re not careful, we could create an unusual marketplace purely based on a lack of confidence about moving.”

“But the reality of the situation is very different. Properties are coming up all the time, but buyers have got to be in it to win it.”

“If they keep viewing properties without selling the one they’re in now, then they fall into this self-fulfilling cycle.”

Completion times are down to 16 weeks

The figures from Propertymark also indicate that total sale completion times are now down to approximately 16 weeks.

“That’s four months, and the likelihood of not finding an onward property in that time is very small,” commented Mr. Emerson.

He also pointed out how estate agent fees have been significantly scaled down by numerous operators across the country in order to motivate more prospective sellers to put their homes on the market.
A percentage of the sale price is largely spent on marketing the property. “As the market cools off, this becomes important,” he said, going on to explain how estate agents “might spend less on advertising” due to sky-high demand and can therefore reduce their charges for the benefit of their clients.

He also said that there is little to no chance of the major stock shortage on the housing market being resolved at any point in the near future.

“We’re going into a quiet period, which means the market would only have three months to put stock on an even keel,” he said.

“We’ll be into the next year before we start seeing housing stock numbers rise again.”