The supply and demand issue has been prevalent in the UK property market for some time, with many blaming it for the rising prices and the fact many people cannot afford to get themselves a place on the property ladder. According to new reports, the issue is more acute than it has been in recent times.
The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) said a rush on properties from landlords who are trying to beat the April 1st deadline for new purchases so they don't incur a three per cent Stamp Duty levy has left a gap in the market, with very few homes available for sale.
In fact, it said supply levels of stock are now at the lowest they have been at any time in the last 14 years. The January Housing Market report shows that during the month, the number of houses available for sale per estate agent branch hit an average of just 33. This was the lowest recorded number since December 2002 when it slumped to as little as 25 per branch.
This came at the same time as there was a swell in the number of potential buyers around the market. While stock is falling, NAEA figures show that the average branch had 453 house hunters registered. This was the highest recorded since the summer, and a staggering 21 per cent higher than December.
The swell in buyers is a direct result of the Stamp Duty levy, but while this should calm down somewhat in the months ahead, there is still a real possibility of a low availability of stock for some time.
"Our findings this month reflect what we are all seeing across the market which is that landlords are trying to complete on sales ahead of the changes to Stamp Duty on additional homes in April. It continues to be a sellers’ market as demand outstrips supply," said Mark Hayward, NAEA managing director.
"The number of sales made to first-time buyers has increased this month, and we should expect to see their market share rise after April. The fact that housing supply has reached a 14-year low really highlights the need for the government to push the house building programme to the very top of their agenda and help more first-time buyers make their first step on to the housing ladder."