Data likely overstates the number of house hunters per house

23 December 2021
What was claimed

In November 2021 there were 29 house buyers for each property in the UK

Our verdict

This analysis likely overstates the ratio of house buyers per property.

Analysis by an estate agent membership organisation claims that in November 2021 there were 29 house buyers for each property in the UK.

The findings, published in a report by Propertymark, was picked up by the Press Association, the Daily Telegraph newspaper and the Independent among other outlets. Previous editions of its analysis have also been reported in the press.

The analysis likely overstates the ratio of house buyers to properties.

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How many buyers?

The figure is calculated by dividing the average number of home buyers registered at estate agent branches by the average number of homes on sale per branch, in November 2021. 

The first issue with this calculation is that it may overcount the number of home buyers, who are not limited to registering with just one estate agent. 

A buyer may well register with numerous agents in their house search in order to receive information about new properties on sale, and it is common for estate agents to ask prospective buyers to register with them before viewing a property. 

Propertymark confirmed to Full Fact that nothing is done in the analysis to account for this.

The second issue is that there is no guarantee that all people registered with estate agents are still looking for a property. A spokesperson for Propertymark told Full Fact that estate agents are in the habit of archiving prospective buyers on their books, which addresses this somewhat. However the analysis does not distinguish between active and dormant buyers. 

On the other hand, there may well be prospective home buyers who are not registered with estate agents, so the figures may miss some of these people. 

While Propertymark’s figures are likely to overstate the ratio of buyers to houses at an absolute level, they may more usefully indicate the trend of property availability. 

Between April and November 2021, it’s estimated that over 900,000 residential properties were sold in the UK, higher than during the same period in any other year since 2013, when records began.

This has probably been influenced by the stamp duty holiday which was phased out by September 2021, and the “race for space” which has seen many people choosing larger  properties in response to the pandemic.  

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