Rightmove’s April House Price Index Reflects Surge Towards Record Highs

The latest figures from Rightmove’s House Price Index for April 2024 reveal a notable increase in the UK property market, with average asking prices nearing last year’s record highs. This upswing is driven by robust activity in the luxury home segment and a general uplift in seller and buyer engagement across the market.

Market Dynamics and Key Trends
The average asking price for properties entering the market this month saw a rise of 1.1%, amounting to an increase of £4,207, bringing the average to £372,324—just £570 shy of the record set in May 2023. This increase marks the highest annual rate of price growth (+1.7%) observed over the past 12 months. A significant factor contributing to this near-record average price is the substantial price growth in the largest homes, particularly in the top-of-the-ladder sector, which has experienced its strongest start to the year since 2014.

Despite these increases, the market remains sensitive, with disparities in pace. The first-time buyer and second-stepper sectors, more dependent on mortgages, are seeing slower price and activity growth compared to the luxury sector.

Seller and Buyer Engagement Increases
The number of new sellers entering the market has risen by 12% compared to last year, and the volume of sales being agreed has seen a 13% increase, indicating a rebound from the more subdued activity during last spring. Notably, the most significant activity surge is in the premium property sector, where new listings and sales agreed have increased by 18% and 20%, respectively.

Adding to the momentum, Thursday, 28th March 2024, marked a significant day for the market, recording the highest number of new sellers this year and ranking as the third largest since August 2020.

Optimism Despite Potential Distractions
Marc von Grundherr, Director of Benham and Reeves, highlighted the positive market trend, stating, “Spring has sprung in housing market terms with growing buyer demand pushing sellers to increase asking prices to near record levels.” He added that with slowing inflation and reduced market uncertainty, the property market is witnessing expected upward price movements. Additionally, wage growth now surpasses both consumer inflation and house price growth, enhancing affordability for the first time in years.

Conversely, Ruth Beeton, co-founder of Home Sale Pack, noted the accelerated selling pace, with homes selling 18% faster than in January, leading to potential price increases in the upcoming months. However, she also warned of increased fall-through risks due to the pressures on the outdated conveyancing process.

Jason Harris-Cohen, CEO of Open Property Group, commented on the high-end market’s response, saying, “Optimism reigns as sellers shrug off any hint of election jitters, throwing caution to the wind with almost record levels of enthusiasm.” He observed that for those at the higher rungs of the property ladder, the market conditions have rarely been more favorable for selling, although this robust price growth could pose challenges in securing buyers.

As the UK gears up for a summer filled with sporting events and a probable general election, the property market continues to thrive, suggesting a window of opportunity for landlords and those considering to make a move.