New property listings fell unexpectedly in October, latest data shows

New property listings fell by 5.5% across the UK in October, and by 6.8% in London, according to the latest housing supply index.

Recent house price falls, particularly in the South East and London, may have dissuaded home owners from putting their properties on the market, says the index report from online estate agent Housesimple.

October normally sees a boost in supply coming to the market, but new stock levels were down in 59.7% of the 100 towns and cities analysed with St Helens in the North West recording the largest decline in property supply, down 33.8% compared with September.

The next biggest fall was a drop of 28% in Salford, followed by a fall of 25.6% in Ipswich, a fall of 25.4% in Salisbury, a fall of 24.5% in Truro, then Durham down by 24.2%, Winchester down 23.6%, Poole down 23.1%, Stevenage down 22.4% and Worthing down 21.8%.

The largest increase in supply in October was a rise of 45.3% in Ling’s Lynn, followed by a rise of 38.6% in Lichfield, while supply was up 32.6% in Chichester, up 26.9% in Bath and up 24.5% in Taunton.

New listings in London fell by 6.8% led by a drop of 19.8% in Richmond upon Thames, followed by a fall of 15.1% in Hammersmith & Fulham, Camden down 14.7%, Harrow down 14.1% and Wandsworth down 13.5%.

Only five London boroughs saw an increase in property listings. There was a rise of 10.1% in Barnet while Bexley and Southwark both saw a 5.6% increase in new supply last month.

‘After supply picked up in September, we were hoping this would lead to healthy new stock levels up to Christmas. But the resurgence in listings was rather short lived as new supply fell again in October, albeit just below 70,000. This can hardly be considered a collapse, but stock levels have been bouncing along at the bottom of the barrel for some time now, and no one seems to know how to boost supply,’ said Sam Mitchell, Housesimple chief executive officer.

‘Building new homes will help in the longer term, and the Government has set lofty house building targets, but we need more available stock now, not in three to five years. The Chancellor could have helped stimulate the market in his latest Budget by cutting stamp duty for older downsizers, to boost stock at the top end of the market, but he chose instead to hit landlords,’ he pointed out.

‘The immediate issue is that a combination of interest rate rises, Brexit fears, and a barrage of negative news surrounding house prices, has put off home owners. With house prices falling in a number of areas, most notably London and the South East, home owners are choosing to wait and see what happens next before making the decision to move,’ he explained.

‘And for many families who are being squeezed financially, while they might have equity in their homes, they may not have the liquid funds to cover buying and moving costs such as stamp duty and solicitor fees,’ he added.