A tad dramatic, perhaps but if you are looking for a new home and feel like there isn’t much choice at the moment then that’s because there isn’t.
The three Lockdowns in England mean that a lot of homes that would have been put up for sale haven’t. Some sellers are worried about the bio-security implications of having strangers walking around their home. Some have simply followed the Government advice and don’t consider their move as ‘essential’. Today there are even some estate agents who don’t want to open up to help buyers and sellers to move.
I monitor the number of new listings that come onto the market each month looking at websites like Rightmove and Zoopla. I look at the sale volumes confirmed by HMRC and by the Office for National Statistics. No one can be certain of the total number of unique listings but I check the figures with the portals from time to time to try and ensure accuracy.
I think we are missing three months worth of inventory or around 350,000 listings that would have come onto the market in March, April and May last year, in November during the second Lockdown or in January this year. The website Home.co.uk thinks that this means that there are 390k listings in total. My own estimate is that there are closer to 600k but this is still around half of the 1.3m being advertised by estate agents in January 2008.
Rightmove estimates that there are currently 613,000 properties under offer or in solicitors hands, many battling to try to get done before the end of the Stamp Duty holiday. Many of them will still be being shown even if they shouldn’t.
What is for sale is often over-priced, can be less than perfect and often fought over by people worried that if they don’t buy now they may miss out. I think more will come onto the market once we get out of Lockdown and the vaccine starts to work. There is no cost to putting your property up for sale (unless you use an online agent) and estate agents will always accept instructions or they will never earn a fee. They will stick with the optimistic owner ever if they don’t agree with the asking price and share their clients disappointment when it eventually sells for less.
So, don’t despair, there may not be much choice now but be patient, more will come, prices are likely to be a little softer as the Stamp Duty holiday kerfuffle dissipates – eventually.