It was a buyer’s market in Britain in March as a record number of homes were sold for less than the asking price, new research from estate agents shows.

Some 86 per cent of properties, almost nine in 10, sold for less than the asking price, according to the data from the National Association of Estate Agents, the highest level seen since records began in 2013.

Propertywire.com reports that this is an increase of 12 per cent from the previous month when 74 per cent of sellers accepted offers below their original asking price and the figures also show that only one in 10 properties, 10 per cent, sold for the original asking price in March, also the lowest since records began.

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At the same time demand has dipped slightly with the number of house hunters on estate agents’ down marginally from 309 registered per branch in February, to 308 in March.

The NAEA report also shows that year on year demand for housing is down by 22 per cent as agents registered 397 house hunters per branch in March 2017 compared with 417 in 2016.

The number of properties available to buy rose to the highest level since October 2017 with 40 available per branch in March compared with 35 in February.

Despite sales to first time byers rising at the beginning of the year following the abolition of stamp duty for most first time buyers the number in this group fell to 26 per cent in March, down from 29 per cent in February and 27 per cent in January.

The number of sales agreed stayed the same in March with an average of eight recorded per branch.

According to Mark Hayward, chief executive of the NAEA, the fact that the market is moving in the favour of buyers may trigger an upward swing in the number of sales agreed as they’re in a position to negotiate lower prices.

But he believes this is a short term situation. “Although demand has cooled off over the last few months and created these market conditions, it’s likely to increase again as those holding off on making purchases move to take advantage of these lower prices,” he explained.

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“Ultimately, this means the number of offers accepted below asking price will fall again and the market will swing back in the favour of home owners. The only thing which will offer a long term solution is more homes to balance the issue of supply and demand,” he added.

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