Eleven house-hunters are fighting for every home on the market after the stock available for sale plummeted to an 11-year low.
The National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA) warned that the situation had reached “crisis point” and first-time buyers were being squeezed out.
The figures compares with a high point in supply in 2008, when there were two buyers for every house on the market. Last year there were about eight buyers per property available. In January 2004, there were an average of 15 house-hunters for every home.
The figures from the NAEA also indicate that the average number of properties available at estate agents stands at 38, equalling the low of 2004.
In the last month alone, supply of available housing fell by a third from 55 per branch in July.
With supply unable to keep up with demand, first-time buyers are increasingly finding themselves squeezed out of the market.
Sales to people trying to get a foot on the housing ladder last month fell to the lowest level since July 2014, with just one in five sales being made to first-time buyers.
Mark Hayward, managing director of the NAEA, said the situation was “reaching crisis point”.
“First-time buyers are finding themselves being squeezed out of the competition, which of course means it’s taking young buyers longer to get their foot on the first step of the ladder, which will in turn increase pressure on the rental market.”
“Fewer properties available results in higher prices and it is a vicious circle,” said Paula Higgins, chief executive of the HomeOwners Alliance.
“It is inevitable that fewer homes for sale bumps up the price.
“This is the result of not building enough homes for 30 years. Government needs to get to grips urgently to tackle this acute shortage by building new homes.”
The decline in sales to first-time buyers comes despite the efforts of the Government’s Help to Buy scheme, which offers a mortgage with just a 5 per cent deposit and provides loans to buyers of new-build homes.
A spokesman for the Departments for Committees and Local Government was working hard to increase the supply of housing.
“The 2008 economic crash devastated the house building industry, leading to the lowest levels of starts for any peacetime year since the 1920s,” the spokesman said.
“We have got Britain building again, with housing completions at their highest annual level and nearly 800,000 homes built since 2009.
“We are planning to build 200,000 Starter Homes across the country, which will enable young first-time buyers to buy a home at a 20 per cent discount.”
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