Homebuyers in the UK are shunning the property market with demand falling to a six-year low, one survey reveals.
According to the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), the number of prospective homebuyers that have registered with each of its members fell in February by 15% to 252 per branch on average.
In January, there were 297 prospective buyers registered.
The figures from the professional body represents a membership consisting of more than 12,000 offices.
The figure for February is the lowest number of registered buyers since July 2013 when an average of 250 prospective homebuyers were registered to an estate agency.
‘House hunters are delaying their plans’
The NAEA’s chief executive, Mark Hayward, said: “We would expect to see usually an increase in activity as we move into Spring but evidently house hunters are delaying their plans until the impact of Brexit becomes clear.
“However, over the last seven months we have seen periods where first time buyers have taken advantage of the reduced competition to drive transactions forward and this picked up in February.”
The figures highlight that property sales being made by first time buyers have now reached a seven-month high, with sales in February increasing to 30%.
The last time this rate of sales was generated by first time buyers was in July 2018.
Mr Hayward added that he believed that the next few months would be revealing as to whether house buying activity will pick up once there is clarity ‘over what Brexit means’ and he highlights that there is the potential for the housing market in the UK to be pushed into a ‘deeper period of uncertainty’.
He said: “In the meantime, both sellers and buyers should feel positive as there are still house hunters searching for homes and there are still new properties coming onto the market.”
Slowdown in the UK’s residential property sector
The organisation’s research is the latest piece of evidence pointing to a potential slowdown in activity in the UK’s residential property sector.
It appears that more sellers and buyers are holding off from making a deal in the run-up to the UK’s imminent departure from the European Union.
The NAEA’s figures underline a study published by property portal Rightmove last week which revealed that house prices in London fell in March as uncertainty over Brexit held back the usual Spring bounce seen in the property sector.
Their figures also revealed that house prices are nearly 4% down year-on-year.
Rightmove says that the biggest drop in prices over the last year has been seen in Kensington and Chelsea, with prices falling 8.3%, with house prices in Lambeth seeing the second largest drop with falls of 6.8%.