The supply of homes in the UK hit its lowest March level since 2003, industry experts have said.
An average estate agent branch had just 39 homes to sell in March, according to the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA), down from 44 in February.
Supply has dropped by nearly 30 per cent over the past year; in March 2016, each estate agent branch had 54 properties on their books.
The vast majority of estate agents (64 per cent) have seen a drop-off in demand from buy to let investors over the last year due to stamp duty reforms. On 1 April last year, stamp duty on second homes was raised by three per cent, putting off buy to let landlords and making more room for first time buyers in the housing market.
The number of sales to first time buyers has been climbing as a result. In March, sales to house-hunters getting a foot onto the property ladder rose to 25 per cent, up from 22 per cent the month before.
Mark Hayward, chief executive of NAEA, said: "There are currently 10 house-hunters chasing each available property, and with supply at the lowest level for March since records began, building more homes to satisfy demand needs to be a priority.
"The upcoming General Election is a good opportunity for each party to outline their plans for tackling the housing crisis; we hope to see it prioritised so we can make the market a better place once and for all."