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Seller shortage sends UK house prices soaring

Rows of houses in London, England. Fewer properites are coming up for sale, pushing up demand and prices. Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
Rows of houses in London, England. Fewer properites are coming up for sale, pushing up demand and prices. Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images (Dan Kitwood via Getty Images)

A shortage of people selling their homes has meant demand is increasingly outstripping supply, as house price rise accelerates across the UK, new data revealed.

A slowdown in the supply of new homes in April has seen price growth accelerate across the UK, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Residential Market survey.

“Housing supply, or more pertinently, the shortfall in supply relative to demand is the key theme coming through loud and clear from respondents to the latest RICS survey,” said Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist.

Latest data published today marks one year since the property market in England reopened on 13 May 2020 after being hit with lockdown restrictions.


A lack of fresh listings was the biggest concern cited by survey respondents – with many saying it was not nearly enough to match the interest shown by potential buyers.

Stock levels reported by estate agents dropped, with the average number of properties on their books now at 40, down from 46 in December 2020.

Looking at new buyer demand, a net balance of 44% of respondents saw enquiries pick up over April, nearly unchanged from the previous 43% in March.

Watch: Am I wasting my money by renting?

Read more: London rent affordability at 10-year high

For the first time this year respondents reported new buyer demand was positive across every region.

House price growth rose again in April – with a net balance of 75%, up from 62% in March and the highest growth seen over the last three surveys conducted.

More respondents also predicted prices going upwards over the next quarter.

Tenant demand for rental properties picked up over the quarter to April – with a net balance of 60% citing an increase across the UK.

This is an improvement on January’s figure of 14%, which respondents put down to loosening COVID-19 restrictions and the positive outlook as more people are vaccinated.

However, this was met by a falling supply of vacant rental properties, which respondents predict will place upward pressure on rents.

“Ensuring a broad range of tenures in the delivery pipeline is also important with anecdotal evidence from the survey emphasising a severe lack of stock in the private rental market as likely to drive up rents sharply over the next year,” said Rubinsohn.

Meanwhile, Rightmove's property expert Tim Bannister said in some areas "properties are selling within a few days of being added to Rightmove, and the average time to find a buyer is the quickest we’ve ever recorded nationally."

"But we also know there are thousands of local markets and some are moving more slowly than others, so as a seller you’ll want your property being seen by the biggest group of buyers possible, giving it the best chance of selling and achieving the best price.”

The online real estate portal revealed Didsbury in Greater Manchester was the most popular local neighbourhood for buyers signing up to find out first about properties coming up for sale "in the current frenzied market."

Chart: Rightmove
Chart: Rightmove

The average asking price in Didsbury currently stands at £367,429 ($518,804), over £130,000 higher than the Greater Manchester average of £237,380.

Second on the list was Walthamstow in East London, where average asking prices have risen by 116% over the past ten years, rising from £230,888 to £499,534, and they are up by 4% over the past year.

Separately, Ascend Properties data showed that since May of last year, the North West has seen the highest rate of house price growth at 12.4%, along with Yorkshire and the Humber (10.3%).

Chart: Ascend Properties
Chart: Ascend Properties

In England, Wirral has seen the largest jump in property prices having risen 26%. Redcar and Cleveland also ranks high with a 25% increase, with Pendle (22%), Selby (20%) and North East Derbyshire (20%) seeing house price growth sit at 20% or higher.

Watch: Why are house prices rising?