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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

March housing supply at lowest point since records began

The number of properties available to buy through estate agents in March was the lowest level recorded for the third month of the year since records began in September 2002.

This is according to NAEA Propertymark's latest Housing Market Report. The survey found that during March the average estate agency branch had 39 properties on its books. This is down from an average of 44 in February and the lowest figure for March since NAEA Propertymark started recording the data almost fifteen years ago.

On an annual basis, supply was also significantly lower - down by 28% from 54 in March 2016.

Demand from prospective property buyers also fell - down from an average of 425 registered buyers per branch in February to 397 in March.

Annual demand has fallen by around 5%, from 417 to the 397 average recorded in March.

The most positive finding of the survey was that sales to first-time buyers increased during March, up to 25% of all sales from 22% in February.

The number of first-time buyer sales, however, was at its highest January, accounting for 30% of all sales.

The average number of sales agreed by an estate agency branch was recorded at 10 in March. This is down from 11 the previous month, which happened to be the highest average recorded since September 2007.

During March, agents reported that around 5% of properties sold for more than the original asking price.

A year since the 3% stamp duty surcharge was introduced for the purchase of additional properties, 64% of agents surveyed said they have seen demand for properties from buy-to-let investors decrease.

Meanwhile, just under two fifths have seen house prices increase as a direct result of the stamp duty reforms.

"There are currently 10 house-hunters chasing each available property, and with supply at the lowest level for March since records began, building more homes to satisfy demand needs to be a priority," says Mark Hayward, chief executive of NAEA Propertymark.

"In line with this, while sales to first-time buyers rose slightly in March, they’re still much lower than the levels seen in the last three months of 2016 which is cause for concern."

"The upcoming General Election is a good opportunity for each Party to outline their plans for tackling the housing crisis – we hope to see it prioritised so we can make the market a better place once and for all,” he adds.

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