Election and Brexit weigh on UK housing market but cheaper prices tempt buyers

18 November 2019

There were 14.9% fewer new sellers than in the same period last year, deterred by lacklustre price growth and political uncertainty

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The number of homes being put up for sale is falling at its fastest rate in 10 years as Brexit and the upcoming election weigh on the market, according to property website Rightmove.

Rightmove says the price of property coming to market fell by 1.3%, or £3,904, this month.

On an annual basis prices were up 0.3%, taking the average price to £302,808.

There were 14.9% fewer properties put on the market than in the same period a year ago.

This was the largest year-on-year slump in any month since August 2009.

While would-be sellers are usually faced with lower asking prices in the run-up to Christmas, a combination of a Brexit deadline and the looming general election have also had an impact.

Sellers may also be waiting to see if whoever wins the election goes on to reform stamp duty and therefore reduce their cost of moving.

Rightmove says that if the reluctance to sell continues into next year’s spring selling season, the lack of new sellers will have knock on effects throughout 2020.

Miles Shipside, Rightmove director and housing market analyst, says: “I’ve seen lots of unusual events affecting the property market in my 40-year career, but a Brexit deadline followed by a snap general election six weeks later is obviously a new combination for me and for many thousands of buyers and sellers.

"Elections normally dampen activity as uncertainty causes a degree of hesitation, but this one is being called to try to break the deadlock after three years of uncertainty. A more certain outlook, whatever it may be, would be a welcome change for those who are contemplating moving.”

Prime Minister Boris Johnson called an election for 12 December in an effort to break the Brexit deadlock in parliament over his plan to take the UK out of the European Union.

Regional trends

House prices fell across the board in November.

The biggest monthly price fall was in the South West, with prices dropping by 2.6% in November. It was followed by Wales and the South East, where prices dropped by 2.4%.

Prices also dropped in the North West, the North East, Scotland, Yorks and Humber, the West Midlands and the East of England.

The only region to see a price rise was the East Midlands, with prices up by 0.3%.

Despite the price falls, the number of sales agreed nationally has fallen by just 2.9% compared to this time last year, and two regions are up on last year, the North East (4.2%) and Scotland (2.2%).

UK house prices in November

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Demand for larger detached houses with four bedrooms or more remains resilient, with the number of sales agreed just 1.4% down compared to last year, with buyers benefitting from new seller asking prices 1.2% cheaper than a year ago.

Glynis Frew, chief executive of Hunters estate agents, says: “The reality is that the market will continue to experience the Brexit jitters until the impasse in Westminster comes to an end. Nobody really knows what’s around the corner so it’s understandable that some buyers have been sitting tight and sellers haven’t been itching to bring their properties to market.

“The family market’s relatively strong performance illustrates that the process of moving house is one that transcends Brexit. People get married, have children and secure new jobs all the time. Whilst there is little doubt that the market is facing its challenges, there is no amount of politics that can stop the desire for people to find new homes.”

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