National Association of Estate Agents' (NAEA) members believe the property market is stabilising, though regional variations remain.
Recent reports have suggested a downturn in both property prices and transactions, with the Council of Mortgage Lenders predicting a 7% fall in prices in 2008, the Government suggesting falls of 10% and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors claiming transactions could fall by 45%.
The NAEA’s latest survey found the number of buyers continued to fall in April 2008, while the proportion of first time buyers also dwindled.
The average number of buyers on estate agent books fell from 249 in March to 237 in April, while the proportion of first time buyers fell to 7.7%, compared with 8.3% in March and 14.5% in January.
The shortage of buyers led to more properties available from each agent, with the average agent marketing 84 properties, up from 76 in the previous month. However, the number of sales per agent had remained stable at seven.
The number of viewings before a sale remained stable again in April at 14 as buyers remain cautious, but the difference between asking and sales prices also remained static at 4.7%.
Chris Brown, chief executive of the NAEA, comments: “It is apparent from the survey results that some people are adopting a ‘wait and see attitude', watching the market, before making any decisions.
“Many, especially first time buyers, will be feeling the results of the credit crunch and tighter lending leading to them being unable to move onto the ladder or up the chain. Some agents are also finding it difficult to stop sales falling through as people get ‘cold feet' or fail to secure mortgages but we must remember that this happens in the best of markets.”
Agents reported varying conditions in different regions of the UK, with areas such as Sussex and Cornwall reporting a slight uplift in sales, while the North East saw sales continue to dwindle.
However, many agents said pricing was a key issue, with some vendors now accepting that previous asking prices were unrealistic, whilst others were refusing to budge on the price of their property.
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