Homes for sale at eight-year high as sellers return to market

Britain’s supply of homes for sale is at its highest point in eight years, according to research, in a trend which experts say will limit house price rises for the rest of 2024.

Zoopla, the property website, said the average estate agent has 31 homes for sale, up 20% on the same point last year and the highest number since 2016.

The statistic equates to about £230 billion-worth of homes on offer, as sellers continue returning to the housing market in growing numbers.

Many existing homeowners delayed moving decisions in the second half of last year, Zoopla said, as the impact of higher borrowing costs on house prices and buyer demand knocked confidence.

Just below one-third of homes for sale were also listed for sale in 2023 but failed to find a buyer.

House prices
Zoopla said the average estate agent has 31 homes for sale (Daniel Leal-Olivas/PA)

But an expected fall in mortgage rates this year, combined with rising sales volumes over the last six months, has boosted sentiment.

Experts think the Bank of England is likely to cut interest rates in the coming months, after headline inflation eased to 2.3% in the 12 months to April 2024, down from 3.2% in the 12 months to March.

The number of house sales agreed also rose by 13% since this point last year, but stayed behind the level of supply – giving buyers the pick of the market.

The trend is expected to keep house price inflation in check. Zoopla’s latest index found yearly house price inflation is minus 0.1%, meaning prices have fallen slightly over the last 12 months.

There has been an increase in house price inflation over the last quarter, at 0.4% up, in response to more sales and firmer pricing, but this quarterly growth rate has slowed over the last month. The property website said it expects inflation to be flat for the year.

Richard Donnell, executive director at Zoopla, says: “The growth in the supply of homes for sale is evidence of renewed confidence amongst homeowners, some of whom delayed moving decisions in 2023.

“The quarterly rate of house price inflation has picked up in recent months as more sales are agreed and prices firm.

“The announcement of the election will slow the pace at which new sales are agreed while greater choice for buyers will keep house prices in check over 2024.

“It’s essential that those serious about moving in 2024 price their homes realistically if they want to achieve a sale.”