Number of homes for sale in UK slump to 11-year low

The number of houses available to buy in Britain has slumped to an 11-year low. Picture: Rob McDougall
The number of houses available to buy in Britain has slumped to an 11-year low. Picture: Rob McDougall
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THE supply of homes for sale has plunged to an 11-year low, according to estate agents - who warned that the market is reaching “crisis point”.

The dwindling number of available properties means there are now 11 house hunters fighting for every available home, the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) said.

An average of 38 homes were available per estate agency branch in August, marking the lowest level of supply seen since January 2004, when 38 properties were also available, according to the NAEA’s figures.

August also saw a dip in house hunters, with an average of 408 house hunters registered per member branch, down from 462 in July.

The average number of completed sales increased by one in August to 10 properties per branch.

But first-time buyers appear to be finding themselves “squeezed out”, with strong competition from buyers higher up the housing ladder pushing through sales, the report said.

One in five sales (20 per cent) were made to first-time buyers in August, compared with 23 per cent in July and 24 per cent in June.

Mark Hayward, managing director of the NAEA, said: “There simply aren’t enough houses to match demand and we’re reaching crisis point.

“There are now 11 house hunters fighting after every available house which isn’t sustainable.

“First-time buyers are finding themselves being squeezed out of the competition, which of course means it’s taking young buyers longer to get their foot on the first step of the ladder, which will in turn increase pressure on the rental market.”

A spokesman for the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said the 2008 economic crash had devastated the housebuilding industry, leading to the lowest levels of starts for any peacetime year since the 1920s.

He said: “We have got Britain building again, with housing completions at their highest annual level and nearly 800,000 homes built since 2009.

“We are also planning to build 200,000 starter homes across the country, which will enable young first-time buyers to buy a home at a 20 per cent discount.”