House sales jump 9% year-on-year, Zoopla reveals

The number of house sales agreed in the UK in the first quarter of the year increased by 9% year-on-year, Zoopla has found.

The group’s February house price index (HPI) revealed that sellers accepted an average £10,000 (3.9%) discount to the asking price to secure a sale.

This was an improvement on the £14,250 average discount (4.5%) seen in November last year.

Additionally, Zoopla’s HPI found that in February, there were 20% more homes for sale compared to the same period in 2023.

Zoopla said this was supported by a macroeconomic environment with mortgage rates on a five-year fix dropping by over 1%, from a high of 5.8% in June last year to 4.4% for a 75% LTV mortgage.

Chief executive at Zoopla, Richard Donnell, said: "Rising wages and falling mortgage rates have boosted consumer confidence and this is feeding into improving levels of housing market activity over the first quarter of 2024. House prices are falling at a slower rate but it remains a buyers market where there is much greater choice of homes for sale.

"We don't believe that house prices are about to increase more quickly but there is more buyer interest. Sellers need to remain realistic on where they set the asking price if they are to take advantage of improving market conditions to secure a sale and move home in 2024."

The average house price in the UK in February stood at £263,600, a -0.5% decrease year-on-year.

Northern Ireland was the region to see the largest increase in annual house prices, jumping by 4.1%, with prices in Scotland also jumping by 2.1%.

The East of England saw house prices fall by 2.3% year-on-year, which is the largest decrease in prices across the regions, with prices in the South East and South West also dropping by 2% and 1.5% respectively.

Director at Benham and Reeves, Marc von Grundherr, added: "While we’re yet to see interest rates fall there’s no doubt that the certainty brought about by a continued freeze has helped to improve market sentiment considerably. Despite the disappointment of the Spring Budget, buyer confidence is building and there remains a strong appetite to transact in 2024.

"The higher cost of borrowing remains an obstacle, but one that buyers are now willing to tackle with the expectation that rates will fall at some point this year. For sellers, this has resulted in an increased level of interest and we’re also seeing a strong uplift in the number of offers being submitted. Previously, the ability to find a buyer in a proceedable position was a challenge in itself and so there’s no doubt that market conditions have improved in this respect."

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