Property demand hit a six-year low in February, helping first-time buyers take advantage of the lack of competition, agents claim.
The latest NAEA Propertymark housing report showed members reported 252 buyer registrations per branch last month, down from 309 this time last year and the lowest level since July 2013.
However, agents claim first-time buyers took advantage of reduced competition in the market, with the proportion of sales to FTBs hitting a seven-month high of 30%.
Meanwhile, the supply of housing for sale fell from an average of 36 properties per member branch in January to 34 in February and agents reported a typical rate of seven sales agreed per branch.
Mark Hayward, chief executive of NAEA Propertymark, said: “With demand at a six-year low, buyers are approaching the market with caution.
“As we move into spring, we would usually expect to see an increase in activity, but house hunters are evidently delaying their plans until the impact of Brexit is clearer.
“Over the past seven months, however, we’ve seen periods where first-time buyers have taken advantage of reduced competition and driven their transactions forward, and this really picked up in February.
“The next few months will be very telling – will activity pick up once there’s further clarity on what Brexit means, or will it push the housing market into a deeper pool of uncertainty?
“Time will tell, but in the meantime both buyers and sellers should feel positive. There are still house hunters searching for properties and there are still new homes coming on to the market.”
Separate research by online mortgage broker Trussle appears to claim that a million people may be delaying putting their property on the market due to Brexit.
A survey of more than 2,000 home owners by Trussle found 8% said Brexit was holding them back from selling, which the broker said is equivalent to 1m properties.
Brexit has still pushed some into action, though, with 33% saying they have moved house since 2016 due to the political uncertainty.
Of the 33%, 18% claim they felt ‘forced’ to act after losing confidence in the housing market due to Brexit uncertainty, while another 15% had sold up and moved abroad.
The broker suggested home owners may have taken action because they are worried that the market may grind to a halt, their property could lose value, or they may think finance will be harder to come by because of Brexit uncertainty.
The figures also showed that 5% of home owners had put their property on the market because they felt they had to sell before prices crash.
Ishaan Malhi, chief executive of Trussle, said: “People have been discussing the Brexit-effect on the housing market since the EU referendum, and have continued to speculate about what lies ahead for our future economy.
“It’s alarming to think that so many home owners cite Brexit as their main motivation.
“Add to that the one million home owners who aren’t putting their home on the market due to uncertainty, and the picture initially appears pretty bleak.
“In many ways, the housing market is proving its resilience in the face of uncertainty. As the future becomes clearer, we could see it turbocharged.”