2022 has started strongly. Sales volumes in January are predicted to be 10% higher than their long- term (2012–2021) average and, except for a year ago, are the strongest since 2007 (Dataloft, HMRC). Buyer demand remains steadfast, up 16% year-on-year (Rightmove). Property price growth continues to be sustained; annual price growth in the year to January was at its strongest in over 15 years (Nationwide). Rightmove reported the biggest monthly jump in the asking price of a newly listed property since 1994 and when asked, the majority of agents are still expecting price growth over the next three- and 12-month period.
At 11.7%, annual property price growth in the East of England is considerably stronger than the 4.6% evident a year ago. The pandemic ‘search for space’ is still playing out in many markets, with prices for detached homes currently seeing the strongest growth of all property types; average prices are up over 15% year-on-year. With office returns and hybrid working now in place, there has been renewed interest in apartment living, and many town and citycentre locations are seeing a rise in buyer demand.
Winds of change
Although the quantity of property for sale remains low, with the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) reporting stock levels per agent at a record low in January (barring the market closure in spring 2020), there are signs of change. New listings in January rose 11% year-on-year, with Rightmove noting a substantial rise in home valuation requests – an indication that many are looking to sell before they buy in current conditions. These should feed through to agents’ books over the coming months. Historically, March is the strongest time to sell, with the highest number of buyer enquiries per property for sale.
Uttlesford, Brentwood and Braintree proved the fastest-moving markets in Essex, Norfolk and Suffolk over the course of 2021, with more than one in every 20 privately owned properties estimated to have changed hands. 2022 has started with momentum. At 39 days, the average time taken to sell a property in the East of England is over three weeks quicker than a year ago.
Sunshine and showers
Across the UK, governments are announcing their plans for ‘living with COVID’ and hybrid working is bedding in. With economic growth of 7.5% over the course of 2021, the UK economy is close to its pre-pandemic level. However, consumer confidence remains on edge due to the rising cost of living. Increases in the cost of food and clothing, along with rising fuel and energy prices, look set to squeeze many household incomes. Savings made during the pandemic might provide a cushion in the short term, and while interest rates may well rise from the current 0.5%, they remain low by historic standards.
As property prices and demand continue to rise, sell your property with experts in the property industry this spring. Contact your local Guild Member today.