An analysis of the portal’s figures by estate agency Knight Frank shows that the shortage is a problem facing the house rather than the flat market.
The number of houses listed for sale was 33 per cent lower over the 12-month period while the number of flats was seven per cent higher.
It is also more acute in parts of the country that have experienced stronger demand due to successive lockdowns. Among the house listings, the number was three per cent down in London compared to a drop of 42 per cent in south-west England.
Knight Frank says part of the explanation relates to January and February which were marked by uncertainty over new Covid variants and the vaccination programme being in its early stages. On top of that, many parents were home-schooling.
Combined, this meant new sellers were reluctant to list their property and we are seeing the effects of that now.
When demand escalated sharply in March, supported by the original stamp duty deadline at the end of the month, the best properties sold relatively quickly.
As those properties went under offer, sellers hesitated as they were unable to find anywhere to move into themselves, exacerbating the supply shortage and putting upwards pressure on prices.
“The current supply shortage represents a bumpy exit from the pandemic and tells us very little about how the property market is going to perform over the next 12 months” says Tom Bill, head of UK residential research at Knight Frank. “The last year has shown the importance of looking beyond short-term distortions in the property market.”
But that imbalance will correct itself in the near future, Bill insists, because in March this year the number of appraisals was above the level seen in January 2020 for the first time in six months – eventually, many of those will make it to the market.