Category: Market Pulse

Effects of Autumn Budget Statement 2023 on UK Property Investors

It’s been a tough year for the property sector. Thankfully there were certain measures in the Autumn Budget Statement, announced recently, to swell the heart of property investors. But there were many omissions to moan about too. 

One of the biggest boosts to developers was the consultation into permitted development rights which could make it possible to divide one house into two flats. The only stipulation being that the exterior of the property doesn’t change. This could mean big profits for those investors prepared to get their hands dirty and do the development work themselves.

Private rental sector still hugely relevant

The huge demand for private rental properties will continue too, thanks to the chancellor doing nothing to cut Stamp Duty. This fact and the current high mortgage rates make it impossible for many couples to buy their own home. 

Jonathan Stinton, Head of Intermediary Relationships at the Coventry Building Society, pointed out that failing to do anything about Stamp Duty changes could result in homebuyers having to fork out an additional £2,500 on an average priced home by March 2025.

Mortgage guarantee scheme extension

First time buyers and current home owners though were thrown a lifeline in the form of an 18-month extension to the Mortgage Guarantee Scheme. This allows them to buy property worth £600,000 with just a five per cent mortgage. And that property doesn’t have to be a New Build. 

Having said that, not all mortgage companies were impressed. 

Rachael Sinclair, Director of Mortgages and Financial Wellbeing at Nationwide Building Society said she was disappointed that the scheme continues to restrict qualifying loans to 4.5 times income. “Research shows that most homes remain unaffordable through the scheme,” she added.

A plus for property investors is they can now feel more reassured when renting to individuals and couples in receipt of Local Housing Allowance (LHA). That’s because, in the Budget, the Chancellor announced a £1 billion investment into the sector, designed to cover market rents for the bottom 30 per cent.

Cut in self-employed landlord NI

Self-employed landlords – along with much of the population – will benefit from the abolishment of class 2 national insurance. That’s to the tune of £192 per year. Class 4 national insurance is to be cut from nine per cent to eight per cent on profits between £12,570 and £50,270, resulting in a saving of around £350 a year.

One of the big omissions in the budget according to Maria Harris, Chair of the Open Property Data Association (OPDA), was Jeremy Hunt’s failure to implement any real measures to speed up the way homes are bought and sold in the UK today. He ordered just £3 million for pilots to look at proptech development and digitising local council property stats – which compared unfavourably to the £500 million for developing Artificial Intelligence.

Harris added: “The Chancellor stated that the UK’s tech sector has grown to become the third largest in the world, this needs to filter through urgently into the tech and digitisation of the home buying and selling process where all key data is held centrally and can be accessed easily and quickly by every relevant party.”

It currently takes an average of 19 weeks to buy and sell in the UK – that’s 77 per cent longer than back in 2007 according to data from The Landmark Information Group.

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Scotland Fares Best in Unsettled Property Market

When it comes to the three nations, Scotland’s property market is faring far better than south of the border. 

Homes aren’t only selling quicker in Scotland – twice as fast as London, in fact – but the country also has the highest year-on-year growth. 

Scottish owners receive highest financial boost

The news, from Rightmove’s latest survey is in contrast with much of the rest of the UK. To the extent house prices fell by 0.4 per cent last month across Scotland, England and Wales together. Taken individually though, property owners in Scotland enjoyed a 2.6 per cent increase in the value of their homes compared to the same month in 2022. Property was selling in 32 days on average. This compared favourably to 63 days in London and 64 days in Wales.

Second fastest-selling market is the North East where property is taking 49 days to sell, followed by the South West with 54 days. 

In terms of prices, property went up in only four other areas overall – by 2.6 per cent in the North East, 1.2 per cent in Yorkshire and the Humber, 1 per cent in the North West and 0.7 per cent in London. The biggest drop in prices was in Wales where property was worth 1.5 per cent less. Next was the East of England where sellers received 1.4 per cent less and the South West, with a fall of 1.3 per cent.

Mortgage interest rate rises together the increases in the cost of living, have slowed down the market as many would-be buyers began to re-assess their moving options.

Property transactions down by one fifth

Certainly, according to HMRC figures, the number of properties changing hands in July this year, fell by more than one fifth (22 per cent) compared to the same period in 2022. 

And, with many more fixed rate deals coming to an end over the following months, together with no indication of mortgage rate drops, the status quo is expected to remain for some time yet. Especially when you consider that the average two-year fixed rate mortgage has gone from 2.3 per cent to 6.56 per cent over the past two years. This is due to the Bank of England increasing its base rate on 14 occasions since the end of 2021.

Fewer properties for first-time buyers

In terms of available housing, there are 10 per cent less properties than four years ago. And this figure doesn’t look like improving any time soon – certainly in terms of New Builds. That’s because planning approval for new housing in England is the lowest it’s been for 15 years. The Home Builders Federation revealed the number of new homes approved for building in England, in the second quarter this year is 54,200. The total for the past four quarters is 265,223. This is despite the government’s promise to build 300,000 new properties a year by the middle of the decade.

Developers are less inclined to build since the mortgage interest rises, as well as the withdrawal of the government’s scheme to help first-time buyers get on the property market.

A for sale sign outside a house on a street

How the Property Market is Faring So Far This Summer

Mortgage interest rates are slowly coming down in a bid to kickstart the property market. One area that desperately needs a helping hand is the construction supply sector where poor demand is already resulting in redundancies. Last month the government put skilled builders, plumbers and joiners on its ‘eligible workers’ visa list. 

House prices

Average new seller asking prices dropped 1.9 per cent this month to £364,895, according to Rightmove figures. That may sound positive for first time house buyers but the majority are worse off, considering mortgage rates have increased at a higher rate. 

According to Nationwide chief economist, Robert Gardner the cost of mortgage payments today would result in a first buyer paying around 43 per cent of their take-home pay on their mortgage today compared to 33 per cent last June. It’s no surprise then to find 10 per cent less properties being bought by first-time buyers, according to Rightmove.


Rising mortgage costs and increases in the cost of living resulted in a 14,000 drop in property purchases in June, compared to the same time the previous year. Then, 100,000 housing transactions went through, compared to 86,000 for the same month this year.

The good news is lenders are beginning to bring down their interest rates for house buyers – NatWest, Halifax and Virgin Money, Nationwide, Barclays, TSB and HSBC have all made concessions to the wider economic difficulties. 

The reductions in mortgage borrowing couldn’t have come at a more suitable time. Earlier this month the Bank of England increased its base rate by 0.25, bringing it to five per cent. This was a further effort to bring down inflation. Mortgage lending criteria has also proved less restrictive in recent weeks.

Thousands of borrowers may now be worried that they acted a little hastily at the start of the summer in a bid to circumvent potentially higher mortgage rates. Bank of England figures showed an increase in mortgage approvals, from 51,100 in May to 54,700 in June. Remortgaging also increased by £5,000 to 39,100 from May to June.

Thomas Pugh, an economist at the audit, tax and consulting firm RSM UK, said: “With interest rates on mortgages continuing to rise, the average two-year fixed-rate mortgage deal broke above six per cent in June, we expect the peak in house prices to fall by around 10% with the risk of bigger falls if the base rate rises above six per cent.”


The construction sector is also feeling the pinch. Building supplier Marshalls announced this month that it would cut 250 jobs in a bid to stem losses caused by a drop in the demand for New Build homes.

The Yorkshire firm said sales were already 13 per cent down in June, year-on-year, with pre-tax profits down by twice that figure to £33m.

In July, Barratt Developments – the UK’s largest housebuilder, announced a double-digit drop in annual profits. It’s not only demand that’s fuelling the losses, supply chain difficulties are causing slowdowns while Brexit has led to a drop in skilled labour numbers.

Only this week, Crest Nicholson became the latest housebuilder to announce a profits warning. The company’s chief executive Peter Truscott, blamed a “significant reduction in sales.” This, he said, was due to “economic uncertainty deterring prospective home movers.”

Private rented sector

A recent report by property portal Zoopla shows the average PRS tenant in the UK now spends around 28 per cent of their salary on rent.

Edinburgh saw the biggest rise in rents last year, with an increase of 13.7 per cent. That was even higher than London at 13.5 per cent. The smallest increase was in Belfast, with 4.3 per cent.

According to Zoopla there are around 20 per cent to 40 per cent fewer homes to rent across the UK than before the pandemic. There’s also more tenants today than in the past five years. In the North East, for instance, there has been a 56 per cent demand for private rented accommodation since 2018, while, at the same time, supply has fallen by 42 per cent. 

The highest increase in demand is in Scotland, with an 86 per cent increase, supply there has fallen by 18 per cent. The figures for the UK as a whole are a 57 per cent increase in demand and 28 per cent drop in supply.

Retail to Residential Conversions Even Easier

Housing Secretary Michael Gove is to make it easier to convert retail outlets, betting shops and takeaway premises into residential dwellings.

The plan, he says, is to make better use of buildings by increasing the availability of residential property, especially in inner city areas. Current homeowners, meanwhile, will find it easier to build an extension or loft conversation after Gove lightens planning laws. 

A spokesman for the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities said they were confident that by relaxing the commercial to residential conversion rules, they would help rejuvenate high streets and encourage people to come and live in cities.

“We must build more [housing] in the places that make sense – in our inner cities so that we protect our countryside,” said Gove.

“And we must make better use of the buildings we already have – empty shops or offices cannot be gathering dust while we have an urgent need for more homes.”

Gove insists government in line to meet ‘advisory’ target

Gove’s speech on reforming national permitted development rights, came at a time when a parliamentary cross-party group warned the government was about to fall short of its annual target to build 300,000 new homes each year. The government’s response was to alter the target to an advisory one. 

At their manifesto in 2019, the government promised to build “a million homes by the next vote.’ Gove still insists this is possible, despite a Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities saying the opposite.

In another bid to ‘get building’, Gove also intends to spend £24mn creating a “super-squad” of planners etc to make sure plans for major housing developments face no ‘local’ obstacles. This includes being able to ‘streamline and simplify’ planning consent matters. The first location he’ll be focusing on, he insists, is Cambridgeshire.

Major housing developers warn more reform needed

But major house developers weren’t impressed. In fact, Steve Turner, executive director of the Home Builders Federation, was clear that if Gove didn’t do more to free up red tape in the planning process then “housing supply could halve” in the coming years.

Neither were housing charities. A spokesman for Shelter said converting retail units into residential homes could result in ‘shoddy housing’ ie where the quality was poor and the buildings themselves “unsafe.”

Polly Neate, chief executive, said: “We need proper investment to build much-needed genuinely affordable homes, not more piecemeal reform.”

Meanwhile, if elected, Labour’s plan to deal with the housing crisis is to free up poorer areas of the greenbelt for developers to start building on. Housing developers and other interested parties have already written to Gove, urging him to use abandoned brownfield sites. They say this could lead to the space for a further 1.6m homes to be built in the UK and at least make inroads into the crisis.

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Handing over the keys to the new owners of a home

Bungalows Becoming Best Sellers

Bungalows are getting bigger – in popularity that is, according to new research. 

To the extent that the price of a bungalow has soared by 17 per cent over the past two years (between May 2021 to May 2023). It compares to a jump of just five per cent for flats between the same period, and 13 per cent for houses. 

Research by the estate agency Knight Frank shows the cost of a typical bungalow was £349,127 in May, compared to £362,915 for the average house and £281,526 for a flat. 

Bungalows best sellers in certain communities

In certain areas, where there is a large community of retired people, bungalows can fetch more than houses. A spokesman for upmarket estate agency Hamptons said this wasn’t uncommon, referencing Bassetlaw, Nottinghamshire where bungalows are selling at more than 51 per cent more than three to four bedrooms home, coming in at 51 per cent (or around £135,680) more expensive than the average family home. 

Other areas where bungalows are becoming the property of choice include South Staffordshire (49 per cent or £185,110 pricier and North Ayrshire (48 per cent or £100,740 more expensive). In already sought-after locations, such as Cornwall and Bournemouth, a bungalow can set potential house owners back by as much as £450,000 or even £1 million in a particularly desirous locale.

Only 10 per cent of listings are bungalows

A spokesman for Knight Frank explained the fact there weren’t that many bungalows listed on estate agents’ books, put the price up too. 

“Bungalows made up less than 10 per cent of the total new listings of houses, flats and bungalows in the year to May 2023,” said Chris Druce, the company’s senior research analyst.

There are many reasons why bungalows have appeared on the radar of so many people in recent years, say economists. And it’s not just down to an aging population. There’s also the fact that the humble – and traditionally small bungalow with just one or two bedrooms – doesn’t cost much to heat. And with the shock of rising utility bills last year, that’s a big reduction for retired couples who until recently were living in underused three or four-bedroom homes.

Families favouring bungalows too

And it’s not just the elderly who are snapping up bungalows. Families struggling to cope with rising mortgage rates are also downsizing. The fact bungalows tend to have large gardens that children can play in doesn’t hurt the bungalow’s popularity with families either.

One local estate agent in Cornwall is so adamant bungalows are the ‘next big thing’ for his community that he’s urging developers to build more. But not just any bungalow. He knows too that many homeowners in their 50s, 60s and 70s are also interested in sustainability.

“I have even advised local developers to consider making bungalows a greater part of development plans. Due to the scarcity of new bungalows, along with an ageing population, there is a real opportunity and demand for future-proof properties that boast modern tech and contemporary design,” says Ben Standen, director of Truro’s Jackson-Stops estate agency.

By that he means ‘green energy’ initiatives such as ground source heat pumps, solar panels, and EV charging points.

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Property Market Picking Up Nicely

More properties are coming on the market for sale with agents reporting an increase in supply. At the same time the countryside and ‘quieter living’ is still proving popular for buyers. Meanwhile, more people are looking to rent.

The estate agents’ professional body PropertyMark showed in its recent Housing Insight Report that there were 70 per cent more homes for sale in April than the same period last year. It brought the average amount of stock available per branch to 34. That’s a big increase of 14 properties more than in April 2022. 

At the same time, the property market is once again similar to pre-pandemic figures in terms of sales, with an average of eight properties sold per branch. The majority of homes – around 75 per cent – are selling at sums below the asking price.

‘Escape to the countryside’ still going strong

Meanwhile, lockdowns may be over but the rush to the countryside is far from nearing its end. Hybrid working has meant many house buyers are still looking for quieter spots in which to reside. And they want bigger homes too. 

At least that’s the findings from the latest Halifax report which says detached homes are by far the most popular category for today’s buyers. To the extent we’re buying seven per cent more than we were a decade ago. That’s a rise from 25 per cent to 32 per cent.

Analysts believe many older people who have built up large amounts of equity in their homes are downsizing. The reason for this is to help children and grandchildren get on the property ladder themselves.

The loser in the property stakes is terraced homes, which have fallen from 26 per cent popularity to 21 per cent over the same period. More of these are now being snapped up by first-time buyers.

At present, the number of detached homes in England and Wales – 4.21 million – makes up 16 per cent of all available homes. That compares to 6.93 million terraced houses (26 per cent) and 1.10 million flats (23 per cent).

More renters than property available

The number of people looking to rent in April was 24 per cent higher than the same time last year, the same Propertymark report we mentioned earlier showed. That worked out at around 118 prospective tenants registered per agency branch. And yet, there are only around nine properties to rent per agency. Despite this, the average rent is 75 per cent less than in April 2022.

Propertymark CEO Nathan Emerson said: “We are still seeing the demand for property grow but no increase in homes. This means that pressure on rent prices is remaining, whilst new legislation will undoubtedly have a knock-on effect, we desperately need more homes for renters.”

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Buyers Want Smaller Homes and Eco-Builds

House prices are teetering on the edge of a fall, while the cost of a mortgage in the UK is increasing. 

The most recent figures from the Halifax show property price increases are flatlining; April’s increase for the average property was a mere 0.1 per cent compared to the same time in 2022. And, with the rapid rise of inflation in comparison, it means prices are, in reality, much lower. 

Cost of New Builds up 3.5 per cent

Looking at individual sectors, the cost of a New Build has actually risen over the past 12 months, by 3.5 per cent. Another positive figure is for property in the West Midlands, which has seen a jump of 3.1 per cent. 

Yesterday’s rise in interest rates, by 0.25 per cent, bringing the figure to 4.5 per cent, is exacerbating the issue of falling property costs. That’s because higher interest rates make buying less palatable. At the same time re-mortgaging becomes far more expensive. 

This is evidenced by the recent RICS survey which showed estate agents have more properties on their books. The average estate agent had 36 homes in April, compared to 35 for the previous two months. The reason being less buyer demand.

Buyers looking for smaller homes 

A squeezing of household finances has also led to a trend in people looking for smaller homes (ie with one bedroom less than in the past). Energy efficient New Builds are also featuring highly on buyers’ ‘want lists.’ 

Simon Rubinsohn, RICS chief economist, said: “Buyer demand still appears to be subdued in the face of relatively high borrowing costs… and ongoing affordability challenges.”

Although Tom Bill, head of UK residential research at Knight Frank, said he expected prices to fall this year, it wouldn’t be by much. He quoted a figure of around three per cent, saying the market would be buoyed by plenty of employment, large amounts of housing equity and people still sitting on impressive savings they garnered during lockdown.

Stammer to hit foreign buyers 

Labour’s Keir Stammer meanwhile threw a spanner into the works of property buying strategies of overseas buyers, this week. He announced that were his party to gain control of government he would impose new restrictions on foreign investors. This includes raising foreign buyer Stamp Duty yet again (it’s currently at two per cent) and curbing the number of properties they can buy on a development. 

Stammer says he also wants to give priority to first-time buyers. He would achieve this, he said, by allowing them a ‘buyers window’ for up to six months (or a time agreed by individual local authorities). In other words, only first-time buyers would be allowed to purchase for a set time. 

Rishi Sunak has already been criticised by some of his party for dropping national house-building targets – especially in light of the poor Conservative election results last week.

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First-time Buyers Face Uphill Struggle

UK property prices are on the rise again – albeit on a monthly basis and by just 0.2 per cent.

The increase was from March to April, reports Rightmove. And, although positive for homeowners, is still 1.7 per cent lower than in the same period last year. The cost of the average property overall in the UK is now around £366,247.

It’s all about competitive pricing for spring, insists Rightmove’s Tim Bannister.

The property portal director said: “Many sellers have transitioned out of the frenzied multi-bid market mindset of recent years and understand the new need to tempt spring buyers with a competitive price.”

The pace of the property market, he says, is similar to that pre-pandemic. In fact, sales were 18 per cent lower than in spring 2022.

First-time buyers face price hikes

Meanwhile, one sector of the property market where prices aren’t particularly competitive, is the first-time buyer market. That’s because the price of one to two-bedroom properties has jumped two per cent compared to spring last year. It brings the asking price for the average first-time buyer home (ie those with one and two bedrooms) to £224,963.

Conversely, sales for ‘second stepper’ homes ie those with three to four bedrooms and a garden and four per cent less their pre-pandemic figure. 

City living is becoming appealing again

And talking of lockdown, now that more people are going back into the office, the yearning for city living is becoming ‘a thing’ once again. Property researchers TwentyCi say sales in cities, particularly inner London, are on the rise. In fact, it’s 5.8 per cent more than in 2019. The prices are rising due to investment from foreign buyers. 

Meanwhile, London lettings and estate agent Benham and Reeves has identified a gap of more than 34 per cent between seller expectations and what buyers are prepared to pay. The average approval price being around £271,098 compared to the seller’s asking price of £363,416. It’s the biggest gap since the market was in full flourish during the height of pandemic in autumn 2020.

North East sees most UK property sales

Most property sales over the last quarter have been in the North East of England (an increase of seven per cent). Scotland was the only other area to experience an increase in sales numbers. The biggest drop in sales was in the East Midlands, at 15.3 per cent. The previously popular South East saw sales drop six per cent.

The North East saw the biggest uplift in agreed sales at seven per cent, while Scotland saw a small increase at 1.4 per cent. 

Other regions recorded by TwentyCi reported a decline in sales agreed when compared to 2019, ranging from a drop of six per cent in the South East to a fall of 15.3 per cent in the East Midlands. The figures, a spokesman for TwentyCi said, pointed to a recalibration in the market, rather than an all-round freefall. 

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‘Over-inflated’ Property Prices Lead to Shrinking Market

An increasing number of sellers are withdrawing their properties from the market.

More than one third of sellers removed their property from marketing websites last month – the highest number since September 2020. The reason for the fall is down to buyers offering sums much lower than hoped for by the seller.

The research, by property researchers TwentyCi, shows buyers are hoping to cash in on the slowing down of the property market. This, however, is having a negative effect since it means fewer properties are available to buy and those that are listed, are more likely to retain their price. Overall though, the result, is increasing stagnation in the marketplace.

Analysts are confident that many of these withdrawn properties will come back onto the market in the spring, when the activity is traditionally strongest. The majority of withdrawn properties are in central London where prices are highest. Sellers there tend to be able to afford to ‘wait it out.’

Shrinking market caused by ‘over-inflated’ prices

One reason for sellers withdrawing their properties is that they were merely’ testing out’ the market anyway with an over-inflated price. In other words, they were in no hurry to move. Other genuine sellers are realising they’ve missed the price bonanza and removing property in order to rethink their strategy. Certainly, with mortgage rates expected to fall as the year goes on, there is hope the market with enjoy a revival of buyers.

Figures from the government’s Office for Budget Responsibility, revealed last week, show property prices are expected to fall by around 10 per cent from their peak last year. This is an increase of one per cent greater than was previously predicted.

Poor Ofsted ratings affecting house prices

Meanwhile house sellers who live in the vicinity of a state school with a failing Ofsted record, may be forced to take £20,000 of the price of their property.

The government’s school grading system is having a marked effect on house prices, says a survey by Hamptons estate agents. Their research shows that the price of properties with a catchment area for a school that had been downgraded by just one point (ie from ‘good’ to ‘needs improvement’) were two per cent lower than their nearby equivalents.

A two grade-drop was even more detrimental to sellers, with a five per cent drop in the value of their property. That’s an average of around £20,171.

Around 80 per cent of top rated schools downgraded

The schools Ofsted inspectors graded had all been marked as ‘outstanding’ in 2012. But, a decade later, up to 80 per cent of these education establishments had been downgraded. Four per cent had been re-graded as “inadequate.” In one area – Plymouth with Millbay Academy – house prices fell by 11 per cent last year.

Of course, the converse is true too. A one grade improvement can result in a property price boost of £4,731 (one per cent), while property sellers in an area where a school has received a two-grade boost can expect to sell for, on average, an additional £22,088 (or six per cent).

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Think Tank Wants Changes to Property Planning Policy

Around 442,000 homes would need to be built annually for the next 25 years in order to relieve the UK’s housing crisis. That’s according to a report by the leading economic think tank for cities and town centres. 

The Centre for Cities analysis shows the UK is short of 4.3 million homes. With the government’s promise to build 300,000 homes a year, it would take 50 years to fix. Worst hit is the Greater South East, while in England as a whole a typical house is more than 10 times the average salary.

UK’s housing crisis dates back to post-WW2

The report says Britain’s housing supply problem dates back to 1947 and the introduction of the Town and Country Planning Act. This is contrary to the belief by many that it was the Tory government’s Right to Buy legislation, introduced in the 1980s, that was the main culprit, particularly since council house building was also cut back at the time.

Comparing the UK’s housing history with that of it is continental neighbours, the report points to a drop in house building of more than one third after the introduction of the 1947 Act. It went from a housing growth of two per cent a year up to 1939 and to 1.2 per cent from 1947 to today.

Call for change to current planning system

Changing the discretionary planning system that local authorities currently use, to a new rules-based, flexible zoning system would greatly improve the rate of new house building, insists the organisation.

Andrew Carter, Chief Executive, Centre for Cities said: “UK planning policy has held back the economy for nearly three quarters of a century, stifling growth and exacerbating a housing crisis that has blighted the country for decades.

“Big problems require big solutions and if the Government is to clear its backlog of unbuilt homes, it must first deliver planning reform.”

Sellers reducing property prices by around 4.5 per cent

Meanwhile, for those who do have a property and are looking to sell, be prepared to reduce the asking price by around £14,000. That’s according to property portal Zoopla’s latest report which shows sellers are cutting prices by an average of 4.5 per cent. In London and the South East of England the cut is slightly bigger – at 5.5 per cent.

The reason for this is isn’t just the cooling off of the market, but the fact there are more homes for sale. According to Zoopla most estate agents these days have around 24 properties for sale. That compares to just 15 for the same period last year. As a result, nearly half of sellers (40 per cent) have been forced to lower the price of their property in order to secure a sale.

But, considering the average property rose by just over 20 per cent during the pandemic (resulting in an average gain of more than £48,000), the current cut shouldn’t be particularly hard-going for long-term home owners.

Richard Donnell, executive director of Zoopla says he expects a ‘soft landing’ for the property market this year, with property price falls of no more than five per cent.

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