As your trusted independent estate agent in Sittingbourne and the surrounding area for 35 years, Quealy & Co are delighted to bring you our property market updates every month.

As we start the third month of 2024 we are seeing a return to normal, pre pandemic, market activity. Buyer confidence is being restored given a more positive outlook for interest rates, inflation and the economy as a whole.

A recent Dataloft Poll of Subscribers found that 85% of surveyed estate agents noticed an improvement in buyer confidence over the last three months, while the consumer confidence level has reached its highest point since January of 2022. We are pleased to report that is very much being reflected in activity levels locally so far in 2024.

With hopes high for a reduction in interest rates on the horizon, we are moving towards spring with strong potential to see recovery in 2024’s housing market.

Biggest Increase for A Year in House Prices

The average house price has risen significantly throughout the UK according to both Halifax and Nationwide as we move into spring 2024. Average properties are now worth approximately £257,656, representing a rise of 0.7% according to Nationwide, while Halifax, the largest provider of mortgages in the UK, reports that an average home now has an asking price that is 2.5% higher than that from January 2023. This price hike is the biggest experienced since 2020, over double the 0.6% 20-year average. We can put these increases down to falling inflation, improvements in mortgage rates, and growing strength in the labour market.

More Buyer Enquiries Show Increased Market Activity

Prospective homebuyers are now starting to look at taking another step up the property ladder, with January looking set to be Rightmove’s Agreement in Principle service’s busiest month since its initial inception in 2022. The increase in demand is being met by equal enthusiasm from sellers, with 15% more new properties coming onto the market when compared with this time last year.

New agreed sales are up by 13%, showing that sellers and buyers are becoming increasingly aligned on pricing. Yet as a fifth of sellers are still accepting over 10% below their asking price to secure their sale, it remains clear that attractive pricing is still crucial.

Mortgage Rates Falling but Base Rate Is Holding

The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee held a meeting on 8th February at which a majority decision was made to keep the base rate steady at 5.25%. This is the highest base rate seen since 2008’s Financial Crisis, yet instead of building societies and banks retaining higher interest rates on their mortgages, we are starting to see prices falling in February’s mortgage market, indicating that lenders are viewing the choice to hold rather increase the base rate as a positive sign from the Bank of England.

Moneyfacts now reports that both the current lowest fixed 2-year mortgage and fixed 3-year mortgage stand at 4.20%, with the lowest fixed 5-year mortgage having an interest rate of 3.93%. The number of available mortgage products for buyers to choose from has also increased for the sixth month in a row, with 5,899 different options currently on the table.

Growth In the Rental Market

During the last year, growth in the UK’s rental market was 8.3%, representing deceleration over the past three months from 8.8%. Yet, despite this drop, the growth rate remains at a historic high, with the 0.4% monthly growth comparing rather unfavourably to the 0.1% average between 2017 and 2019.

Currently, the average amount of rent tenants are paying in the UK each month comes in at £1,200, with renters in London paying the highest typical rent at approximately £2119 and those in the North East paying the lowest amounts at just £695.

London’s growth is slowing down as rents are hitting the affordability ceiling. It is now expected that rental growth will continue to slow down as affordability worsens, keeping demand firmly in check. Landlords appear to be taking a more realistic approach to rental pricing, perhaps taking the cost-of-living crisis into consideration as they set new rates, which is good news for those who are still unable or unwilling to purchase their own property.

Heading In the Right Direction for Spring?

With the start of 2024 seeing signs of success in the property market, it appears that we could be heading in the right direction for a positive Spring. Tenants and homebuyers alike are likely to see improvements as we move forward, making this an excellent time to start looking for a new home. As March is traditionally the month during which properties are most likely to secure a buyer, now is the perfect time for anyone considering selling to make moves towards finding an estate agent.

What Next?

If you are thinking of buying or selling a property in Sittingbourne, Sheerness, Minster, Faversham, Canterbury, Rainham, Gillingham, Chatham, Rochester or Maidstone, please get in touch with our friendly team at Quealy & Co.

Call us 01795 429836 or email to chat with a member of our friendly and experienced team about anything to do with moving home. 

You can also use our instant online valuation tool if you just want a ballpark figure of your home's value at this stage: Click here


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