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Around 10% of house sales taking place ‘off-market’, analysis finds

·3-min read

Around one in 10 homes are selling across Britain without being widely marketed, according to analysis.

In the five years running up to the start of the coronavirus pandemic, the average home sold off-market achieved £1.2 million, estate agent Hamptons said.

The growth in off-market transactions has increasingly been driven by lower-priced properties.

So far this year, the average discreetly marketed home changed hands for £858,000, down from £979,000 in 2021, Hamptons said.

A lack of available homes means buyers have been prepared to pay a premium to seal a deal before a home is advertised more widely, including online.

So far this year, homes marketed discreetly have achieved a higher proportion of their asking price than their counterparts which were more widely marketed, the research showed.

The average off-market home sold in 2022 achieved 99.5% of its asking price, surpassing a 2014 record of 98.0% which was set during a strong prime central London market.

Meanwhile, similar homes marketed to a wider audience have achieved an average of 99.1% of their initial asking price so far this year.

Typically, homes spend two to four weeks being quietly marketed, before either a buyer is found or it is launched on the open market to reach a wider audience, Hamptons said.

With more off-market properties securing a sale quickly, fewer homes are then being advertised more widely later on.

Just over a quarter (26%) of homes marketed discreetly came on to the open market this year, down from 38% pre-pandemic in 2019, according to the study.

The figures came from Hamptons’ analysis of data from Countrywide, a network of estate agents which includes Hamptons.

Aneisha Beveridge, head of research at Hamptons, said: “Selling off-market has become an increasingly established sales strategy over the last five years.

“The first generation of off-market sellers were those people primarily concerned about the privacy of their home, keen to ensure it wasn’t exposed to anyone who wasn’t serious about buying it.

“While these sellers still make up around half of homes launched off-market, they were joined in 2016 by central London homeowners keen to minimise their digital footprint in what was an increasingly tough market.

“Post-pandemic, selling off-market has increasingly been driven by sellers keen to avoid wider marketing and limiting the number of buyers through their doors.

“And this strategy has paid off. Buyers have been willing to pay a premium to secure their home off-market and prevent sellers from marketing the property openly to other interested parties where competition is rife.”

Ms Beveridge added: “It is likely that we are reaching peak off-market sales levels.

“With the number of homes on the market forecast to rise later in the year, buyers are likely to be more cautious about paying a premium in the face of an increasing amount of choice.

“If this happens, off-market sales may retreat back into their prime heartlands.”

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