Estate agents suffer “poor month” as mortgage rate rises bite – ONS

The Office for National Statistics says activity in the property industry fell in April despite the economy picking up.

Estate agents had a “poor month” according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS), as activity in the property industry shrank.

ONS data revealed GDP growth in the UK economy in April of 0.2%, but in real estate the picture was different with a 0.03% contraction in activity.

Rising mortgage rates are taking their toll on the property sector, with many buyers hesitant to take the plunge.

Guy Gittens, Foxtons
Guy Gittens, CEO, Foxtons

Guy Gittins, CEO at Foxtons, says the “power balance” between buyers and sellers has “shifted”. He says “serious sellers had to get a little bit more competitive with pricing”.

House builders and estate agents also had a poor month.”

Darren Morgan, ONS director of economic statistics, says: “GDP bounced back after a weak March.

But “house builders and estate agents also had a poor month”, he says.

Activity strong
Nathan Emerson, CEO, Propertymark

Nathan Emerson, CEO at Propertymark, says: “We are now seeing a gradual return to a more sustainably-paced market.

“However, compared to pre-pandemic in April 2019, activity is strong.

“Due to a slowing in the number of home buyers compared to the huge spike seen previously, this has allowed the number of homes available for sale to recover some, but a steady level of transactions is happening with serious buyers still on the move.”

Suspended lending

Interest rates are expected to rise again next week when the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee announces its latest decision. And Chancellor Jeremy Hunt says interest rate rises are necessary to keep inflation under control and then bring it down.

Both Santander and HSBC (twice) have suspended new mortgage lending during the past few days, as many house buyers have tried to beat another rate rise by securing a mortgage deal now.

Other lenders such as NatWest, Nationwide and Halifax have raised rates.

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