First time buyers took advantage of a quiet property market in December with sales to those seeking their first home increasing, according to estate agents.

Overall the number of house hunters registered per estate agent branch fell by 20% in the last month pf 2017 and in line with this, the rate of sales per branch also fell, the latest survey from the National Association of Estate Agents shows (NAEA).

It also shows that first time buyers were able to take advantage of the quiet market, with sales to the group increasing by 32%, the highest rate since September 2016 and up from 27% in November.

There were 268 prospective home owners registered per member branch, down from 333 in November and the number of sales agreed per estate agent branch fell to five, the lowest since December 2014 when there were also five agreed, and down from seven in November.

The supply of available properties remained fairly stagnant in December, falling by just one to 33 on average per branch. But this is down 20% from December 2016 when agents were typically marketing 41 properties per branch.

The time taken between offers being accepted and exchanging contracts reduced marginally in December as 4% went through in under four weeks compared to an average of 1% from January to November 2016.

The percentage of transactions which took longer than 17 weeks to exchange fell in line with this, from seven per cent in November, to just four per cent last month.

Mark Hayward, NAEA chief executive, explained that while buyers usually fall off in December and new sellers wait until the New Year, it is unusual for first time buyers to capitalising on the seasonal slump and use it to their advantage.

He also pointed out that 44% members think that the Chancellor’s stamp duty cut for first time buyers will encourage more to make offers. ‘It looks like that’s what we’re starting to see. Hopefully this enthusiasm won’t falter when the second and third time buyers come back onto the market and competition hots up again,’ he added.

Article Credited to PropertyWire