Sunday, 16 December, 2018

Average UK house prices up £2000 in January, but buyers remain 'choosy'

A sign advertising a house sale in London where property prices went into decline in 2017 for the first time since 2009. Neil Hall EPA A sign advertising a house sale in London where property prices went into decline in 2017 for the first time since 2009. Neil Hall EPA
Russell Knight | 15 January, 2018, 13:19

The average price was up 0.7% to £297,587.

It adds that average asking prices are up 0.7 per cent over the past month - a very similar figure to the 0.6 per cent recorded in January 2017 and with an nearly identical number of properties coming to the market. In a further concerning sign for the market, the average number of days required to sell a house jumped to the longest since January 2012, reaching 78 from 71 a month earlier.

This is just as tight as it was a year ago, with the level of average overall stock per estate agency branch (including under offer and SSTC) between the start of December 2017 and the start of January 2018 static at 42 properties.

Asking prices for properties popular with first-time buyers - those with up to two bedrooms - rose 1.1pc in January, the biggest rise ahead of second-stepper properties at 0.4pc.

"Couple this with competitive mortgage rates and a Stamp Duty exemption, and first-time buyers should find it that little bit easier to get on the property ladder", he adds. "Setting tempting asking prices and then quickly reducing them if there is little initial interest will be key to turning this promising level of buyer activity into actual sales, especially in the less active sectors and locations of the United Kingdom".

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Rightmove, which tracks 90% of the United Kingdom property market, said there had been a "busy start" to 2018, with more than 4m visits a day to its site, up almost a tenth on past year. "While potential buyers are still busy looking, they are looking for good value and the right property".

The London housing market stuttered in 2017, after an extended period of growth in house prices.

Miles Shipside, Rightmove director and housing market analyst comments: "Considering some of the gales that buffeted the market in the latter part of 2017, these early readings for 2018 show that there is now a good following wind of search activity". We need to remember that Rightmove's data is based on asking prices and therefore will reveal more of a vendor behaviour than a buyers. So whilst asking prices haven't increased significantly in January, frankly the situation is better in most regions than many had hoped.

"Of course, the Chancellor's recent announcement that Stamp Duty would be removed for first-time buyers of properties of up to £300,000, or on the first £300,000 of higher value properties up to £500,000, is the focus of much attention in terms of the impact that it's having on the market". That said, London is still seeing prices cooling, which is a continuation of the trend which has been brewing since past year.

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