The supply of available housing has almost halved in 10 years while the number of buyers has steadily risen.
This growing imbalance between vendors and buyers is worsening property shortages and should continue to push up prices.
New figures show the average estate agent had just 37 properties available in December 2015, down from 72 per branch in December 2005.
The shortage has worsened over the last year, with 45 houses available in December 2014, according to the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) December Housing Market report.
At the same time, the number of house hunters continues to rise.
There were 374 potential buyers registered per branch in December last year, up from 302 in December 2005.
In December 2014, there were 360 potential buyers registered at each branch.
Low supply affected the number of sales in December, as NAEA members reported an average of seven sales per member branch, the lowest recorded in 2015.
NAEA managing director Mark Hayward said: “Whilst we expect figures for supply and demand to be seasonally low in December, 2015 overall does not paint a positive picture for the housing market.
“Supply of housing is half of what it was 10 years ago, yet the number of home buyers on the books has been gradually increasing.
“When there is such a huge and widening gap between supply and demand, a level playing field seems further out of reach for many would-be house buyers.”
NAEA figures also show that 44% of agents have seen an increase in buyers trying to snap up properties ahead of the forthcoming buy-to-let stamp duty surcharge, which comes into force in April.